What was Snowdens plan for after he leaked the secret NSA documents? If What county made the most sense for asylum seekers? For Edward Snowden, Ecuador was the best choice.
Ecuador is a nation that does not have the best diplomatic relationship with the US. The country has previously sheltered Julian Assange instead of allowing him to be extradited.
Learn more about Edward Snowden, Ecuador as a possible destination, and what went wrong.
Edward Snowden: Preparing to Run
After Ed revealed his identity, two attorneys, Jonathan Man and Robert Tibbo, volunteered to take him on. They helped him get out of the Mira hotel when the press figured out he was staying there. Robert was good at finding safe houses, and Ed stayed with some of his other clients, refugees who had been unable to get permanent residency status. They were lovely, hospitable people and Ed was forever grateful for their help.
Ed appealed to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, but while the UN tried to get him protection in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government decided to consider the US’s request for extradition. Ed cleared his computers and prepared to run.
Edward Snowden: Ecuador Context
Ecuador and the US aren’t on particularly friendly terms. Rafael Correa, when elected in 2007, rolled out policies intended to correct US interference in Ecuador, one of the major ones being that the country would consider its national debt “odious.” Odious debt is national debt that’s incurred while a country is being oppressed (in Ecuador’s case, by the US). As a result, no one can force the repayment of odious debt. A lot of US foreign policy is made by financiers, and they weren’t happy that Ecuador wouldn’t have to pay debts.
In 2013, Ecuador also supported political asylum and the Ecuadorian embassy in London hosted Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.
Edward Snowden: Ecuador Difficult to Reach From Hong Kong
Ed decided to head for Ecuador. However, there were no direct flights from Hong Kong, so getting to Ecuador was going to be a challenge—even just passing through other countries could be dangerous. Ed would only be safe if he landed in non-extradition countries, and he shouldn’t even cross the airspace of any countries the US could manipulate.
The route was to fly to Moscow, then Havana, then Caracas, then Quito. It was the only possible route and it wasn’t perfect—there was a 20-hour layover in Russia, and going from Russia to Cuba involved crossing NATO airspace and going over Poland. Poland had helped the US government in the past, notably by allowing the CIA to torture people at black sites.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Permanent Record summary:
- What Ed Snowden discovered that caused him to completely lose faith in the government
- How Snowden led the bombshell reports of US mass surveillance
- How Snowden is coping with his treatment as both patriot and traitor