Where Is Snowden Now? Whistleblower’s Life in Russia

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Permanent Record" by Edward Snowden. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Where is Ed Snowden now? What happened to him after he spoke to journalists? Is Edward Snowden today happy with the choice he made?

In 2013, Edward Snowden leaked top secret documents to the media. The documents revealed that the US government was conducting mass surveillance on its citizens and nearly everyone in the world.

The question is: Where is Snowden now? Learn more about what happened following the leak.

Where Is Snowden Now? What Came of His Disclosures?

Ed knew that coming forward would have consequences including:

  • Legal charges. Ed had shared top secret information with the media, which was illegal. Ed was charged with political crime—crime against the state instead of against a person—under the Espionage Act on June 14.
  • Extradition. Ed should have been exempt from extradition because he was charged with political crime. (Often, those charged with “political crime” haven’t actually committed crimes; the charge is simply a way for an authoritarian government to control dissent.) However, the US government requested his extradition on June 21, expecting that Hong Kong, like most countries, wouldn’t dare to defy them.
  • Discrediting of his character. In the agency databases, Ed read about what the government did to other whistleblowers. The intelligence community would go through their surveillance of a person, find something, even something small, and then use it to discredit someone’s character. 
    • For example, the government tried to discredit Ed by referring to him as a contractor and “former Dell employee.” They also mentioned that he was a “job-hopper,” implying that he was overambitious and had problems with authority. 
  • Harassment of his family, particularly Lindsay. Ed thought Lindsay would understand why he’d done what he had, even if she wouldn’t forgive him.
  • Public outcry. When citizens found out that their governments had surveilled them, they would demand change and call for justice.

Where is Snowden now? Was he arrested or extradited to the US? After 40 days in the airport, Ed eventually got temporary asylum from Russia. The president of Bolivia had attended the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Moscow, and when he left, the US diverted his plane to Vienna because they thought he had Ed aboard (the president had expressed solidarity for Ed). 

This was hugely insulting to Russia and they knew the US would do the same thing again if they ever suspected Ed was on another plane. As a result, Ed got his asylum. Sarah got to go home, and Ed stayed in Russia.

In his relationship with Lindsay Mills, where is Ed Snowden now? In 2014, Lindsay visited Ed in Russia. He didn’t think he deserved a second chance, but she gave him one. Ed mostly stayed inside when he was alone, but Lindsay took him to museums and they went to the opera. At one of the museums, a teenage girl recognized him and asked for a photo. Ed agreed and never managed to find the photo online; the girl seems to have kept it private.

Edward Snowden: 2019

So where is Snowden now? Lindsay eventually moved to Russia and she and Ed got married.

For Edward Snowden, 2019 marks another years where he has stayed out of jail. With respect to his career, where is Snowden now? As of 2019, Ed works for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. This organization works towards public-interest journalism and to strengthen rights to privacy. 

Where Is Snowden Now? Whistleblower’s Life in Russia

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Edward Snowden's "Permanent Record" at Shortform.

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

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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