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I'm Ready To Help NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Seek Asylum (forbes.com)
405 points by llambda 1232 days ago | hide | past | web | 44 comments | favorite

Birgitta Jonsdottir, member of parliament in Iceland and the woman extending this offer (edit: she doesn't have authority to offer asylum, so reaching out to offer assistance is more accurate), was previously the subject of these secret orders, which were served on all of the major tech companies. The only reason she knows is because Twitter actually challenged the gag order and managed to get it unsealed (MAJOR respect to twitter, they deserve credit for this), which is the only time that has happened. Several others who were supporters of Wikileaks had these served as well.

"The information demanded by the DOJ is sweeping in scope. It includes all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the "means and source of payment," including banking records and credit cards. It seeks all of that information for the period beginning November 1, 2009, through the present"

This is why the "protecting the country from terrorists" rhetoric is bullshit and should be ignored. They'll sweep up anything from anyone who has any success in opposing or embarrassing them. That's why this cannot be allowed to happen in secret. Once they have your entire life, it doesn't matter who you are, they'll find something. If not, they'll harass you for years.

While only five people were individually named, according to lawyer Mark Stephens the order effectively entailed the collection in relation to criminal prosecution of the personal identifying information of over six hundred thousand Twitter users, namely those who were "followers" of WikiLeaks.

They claim this type of activity is only for specific, targeted individuals, but apparently to them, that means things like "anyone following @wikileaks on twitter".

Who were the other four people named?

Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp.


The problem is people always screw up and a decade later they think it's okay to visit the US for a conference or something and don't realize they will never see the light of day again once they step into that airport.

Or some country wants a political favor from the current US president so they turn him over.

Very brave dude but his life is just about as over as Bradley Manning.

More likely, he could be flying somewhere and the plane either enters US airspace, or has to make an emergency (real or not) landing in the US.

Do you think passengers involved in an emergency landing go through immigration and customs? Can they shop at the duty free store as well?

I don't know what's supposed to happen.

Do you think federal agents of some flavor would pass up the arrest? I think they'd do it no matter what, and then a judge will give them a stern talking to and uphold the arrest. At best the guy would be in prison for years pre-trial, possibly convicted and prison, and then when his useful life is over he'll win a Supreme Court challenge. Chilling effect served.

Something tells me he will not forget. However, it might suddenly become very difficult for his family to go and visit him, wherever he ends up.

FYI: Birgitta is in a minority opposition party (The Icelandic pirate party) with 3 representatives out of 63. Given the ruling government's track record, both regarding refugees seeking asylum as well as a strong will to have good relations with the U.S., I find it highly unlikely he will be given asylum in Iceland. Now, Bobby Fischer was given an asylum in Iceland in 2006 in a unanimous parliament vote - but that was without great objections from the U.S. This is (obviously) a completely different thing.

Perhaps Snowden will not be given asylum this time but you bet that the Pirate Party, the only official political movement on his side, will have more than 3 members of parliament after the next election.

Yes, we hope so. But that is up to the icelandic people and whether or not they care.

Slightly off-topic question, but why did he not just go to Iceland in the first place? Hong Kong does not seem like the best destination here.

A competing theory is that he is actually spying for the PRC. Hong Kong would be an obvious choice for a wealthy, Western spy seeking Chinese protection. They're semi-autonomous, but military affairs are run by the PRC, and in particular the PRC has control over foreign extradition:


If this wasn't a priori the best theory, surely the HK part adds some Bayesian weight.

Do you have more information about this theory? The discussion has been so one-sided, I feel obligated to seek other interpretations.

I don't think there is any more information about it because circumstantial evidence is the only connection.

Not to say that it isn't true, but at this point a whole wide range of things could be.

I just mean more discussion.

I haven't found any interesting information. Apparently this theory is being speculated on CNN (as I said, neither interesting, nor information...)


That sounds more like a smear campaing, although I kinda want it to just be a chinese propaganda coup against the US.

Sounds like the smear campaign begins early this time... Where's the evidence?

China is also not afraid of the US. That does help a bit. If he was working for the PRC. His safest bet would be China.

Next would probably be the middle east or Korea.

You forgot the Bayseian weight of negative one million, for revealing his identity and what he's been doing to the international press.

It says here that he was on leave from his NSA job for treatment for his epilepsy (well, that's what he told the NSA). It's been known that medical tourism is somewhat big in Hong Kong (though mostly for other Asians, particularly mainland Chinese). In this respect, going to Iceland would've raised a few NSA eyebrows, and in light of this I think HK was a good choice (of course, I'm sure there are other, better, choices).

I still would question why he didn't then hop on a flight from Hong Kong to Iceland before he let the cat out of the bag.

Edit: Maybe he left Hong Kong after the interview but before they published it?

Check out beggi's post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5852564

Iceland cannot make guarantees either. Also, I suspect that booking a flight would raise a lot of suspicion. Spies spy on spies -- people like Snowden are just as likely, if not more likely, to be watched, than your typical civilian.

He has probably considered that and knows more than we do about what his strategy is. He probably hasn't shown his whole hand either. He might not even be in Hong Kong.

This. We are seeing reports that are hours old. How he released the NSA data was thought about long ago. I doubt he is in HongKong.

Totally - welcome to the farking cyberpunk future we all dreamed about in the 80s.

THis is amazing.

If he lied to The Guardian I would be very surprised. It would be unlikely to help his case.

I don't think you've been paying attention. Glenn Greenwald (who writes for the Guardian) and Laura Poitras (who's independent, but has had bylines for both the Guardian and WP) interviewed him in his hotel room in Hong Kong. He definitely was in Hong Kong for a while.

That was kind of my point. I wasn't the one who said "he might not even be in Hong Kong."

I think the poster of that statement meant that in the interview he made it sound like he was intending to stay in Hong Kong, but that may well not be his strategy.

I thought it was fairly shrewd - any kind of "extra-legal" action against him in Hong Kong would almost certainly piss China off, and they're really the only tiger that the US isn't in a hurry to get into a wrestling match with.

A hit on Snowden in Hong Kong would be an immense international diplomatic incident. A hit on him in Iceland would be a flash in the pan (what's Iceland going to do about it?). My hunch is that he's banking on diplomatic tensions between China and the US to shield him.

Hong Kong puts him under China's diplomatic shield without necessarily directly exposing him to the PRC's equivalent of the NSA, who I'm sure are eager to get their hands on him.

Other than one minority party MP trying to win votes, what makes you think Iceland would be better? Iceland has an extradition treaty with the US, is a NATO member and the current conservative government doesn't show any desire to piss off the Americans.

If you didn't have any direct relationship and assurances from a government that you'd be protected from extradition, which one would you go to?

Isn't the obvious answer that China would be less willing to extradite people to the US? Not as unwilling as, say, Iran, but still.

On an unrelated note, there's this petition on the White House website, in need of signatures : https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snow...

Does anyone actually believe that that'll have any positive impact on this situation whatsoever?

Maybe I'm just jaded, but "clicktivism" seems like it's just about the least valuable way you could possibly make a political statement.

This is very nice of Jonsdottir, but given the current conservative government in Iceland, I doubt it is a safe place for Snowden.

In fact, given how widespread the American influence is, I can't think of a safe country for him. Apart from Ecuadorian embassy-like hideouts.

The funny thing is, if the US had only treated Bradley Manning 'decently' (ie. as they would any other criminal suspect), the case for asylum would be exceedingly poor - he openly admits to committing a crime, and that simply isn't grounds for asylum. But the Bradley Manning case shows that those under prosecution for that kind of crime will be subjected to 'extra-legal' treatment that it can well be argued amounts to 'persecution' (which is the requirement in the UN convention on refugees).

The memo claims they're trying to reach out to Snowden to verify his intentions to seek asylum. I wonder how they do that?

Ask the Guardian to put them in touch?

Didn't think of that, seems obvious now that you mention it


I don't even care if she straight up runs a "gay conversion therapy" business if she does the right thing in this situation. I cannot object to a bad politician doing the right thing (though of course that does not mean I would vote for them).

Mildly off topic question: How common are asylum applications submitted? How often are they accepted?

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