Plus, as others have said, Ecuador is hardly a paragon of freedom. It spies on its citizens in ways just as blatant and intrusive as that of the US, if not more, and political dissent and media freedom is only barely tolerated.
Let's not allow the rightful anger over the NSA's domestic activities blind us into giving Snowden a free pass to leak whatever he has (in his own words he regards all surveillance as wrong) or into believing that Rafael Correa is on the side of those of us who don't like pervasive state surveillance.
It is well-established principle that a country's intelligence agencies, whether human or electronic-focused, are not required to respect the privacy of those in other countries. While you're saying that the NSA should be forbidden from spying on foreign citizens, my own country has no qualms about collecting intelligence on American citizens, which I believe it does regularly, nor does any other state.
The real issue at hand here is why the NSA, an agency ostensibly prevented by law from spying on American citizens, is doing just that.
If everyone moves to local services and infrastructure, that could be beneficial to the export/import situation of many medium size countries. But the US would not benefit. It is heavily invested in exporting these products.
The main threats in the world are no longer just states, they're also small groups of individuals capable of doing a ton of damage. I see no way for the NSA or CIA to be able to do their jobs without being permitted to spy on foreign citizens.
The protections for American citizens against their government spying on them are intended to preserve political freedom in the US. Security is traded for liberty. That same relationship does not exist between the US government and foreign citizens like me.
Obvious ethical considerations. I'm sick of living on the death star.
It doesn't seem possible to me that any non-transparent organization with such capabilities will ever live up to some promise to "just spy on brown people". In Snowden's words: "policy protection is no protection — policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens".
I don't think foreign spy programs are relevant to this discussion. If Pakistan jumped off a bridge, would you follow?
> The main threats in the world are no longer just states
The main threats in the news are no longer just states, that's all. A few people commit criminal acts in a foreign country somtimes. Meanwhile, states have nuclear weapons and are very often in a state of war.
> That same relationship does not exist [for foreign citizens].
Perhaps it should. Your reasoning was developed back when packets had their ping measured in years. One very simple reason to call Snowden a hero is that I want US tech companies to be trusted and to thus prosper, because I want to work for them.
In general, it upsets me that some narrative has taken hold where, because "non-US persons" are on the internet, it's OK for a non-transparent agency to listen to everything on the internet, and high treason for someone to attempt to save me from it. Living in China for a couple days and talking to the news isn't "going to the enemy", as you'd so like me to see it.
Two wrongs don't make a right; they're just a multiplicity of wrongs.
I'm condemning all massive scale spying on foreign citizens regardless of country. Pretty sure there's a logical fallacy in that sentence of yours.
> I see no way for the NSA or CIA to be able to do their jobs without being permitted to spy on foreign citizens.
The U.S. is not just spying on specific citizens. They are hacking into major Chinese telecom services and sucking up all the information they can.
> The protections for American citizens against their government spying on them are intended to preserve political freedom in the US.
Is it ok to spy on American citizens living abroad or are they fair game?
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
Also, Ecuador's status as free/not free is a red herring - he should be granted asylum simply so that he can avoid being tortured while in US custody, something they have demonstrated they are more than willing to do to leakers.
Also, it is difficult to concede your point about facing the US legal system even if I agreed with your basic premise, considering the embarrassing and reprehensible treatment of Bradley Manning.
From months of torture to a show trial (he was publicly declared guilty by Obama before his trial even started), even if we were in agreement that Snowden MAY have done anything wrong (which we aren't), to suggest that the US legal system at present is in any way resembling something that can produce justice in these matters is disingenuous at best and maliciously jingoistic at worst.
I still have faith in the US's civilian courts to deliver a fair verdict in Snowden's case, despite its flaws.
...and as for "fair", it doesn't even pass the laugh test.
There is zero to indicate they will treat Snowden or Assange or Greenwald fairly in any way.
In general I'm ok with knowing whatever is true, for better or for worse. I mean, in a lot of ways, I don't really want to know the exact opinions people have of me at work like about how I look, dress or smell. :)
I think its irresponsible for Correa to hurt the lives of his citizens by hurting US-Ecaduaror ties just to make fun of the USA.
I actually think the government could accede to the requests of Snowden's father completely and still get justice in the end (though we'll see what they do).