To Russia With Asylum

Snowden is already getting job offers in his new host country. Julia Ioffe speaks to the leaker’s lawyer:

“[H]is father is coming [to Moscow] soon, his American lawyer is coming. He won’t be left to face his fate alone.” He added, “He has American friends here. So everything will be okay.”

It is unclear who those “American friends” are, and how Snowden, who has not had visitors for 39 days, and has never been to Moscow, made them. What we do know is that Moscow is still crawling with American spooks—as we learned from the CIA agent nabbed in Moscow while wearing an obscene blond wig—so maybe those are his American friends in Moscow. Likely, though, Snowden will live in an apartment that is bugged to the hilt, as any of my American (and British) friends in Moscow can tell you. They’d also likely tell you about how the Russian security services will regularly pay visits your apartment, usually when you’re not there, and leave overt “we were here” clues behind: missing rugs, opened emails, a ladder in the bedroom, a gun on your welcome mat. It may not be as excruciating as intercom announcements from a world now closed to you, but it’s a close second, believe me.”

Well, Snowden wanted to protest a surveillance state, so we await his resistance to the full metal version in Russia. Or will he stay mum? Is it only when the US engages in surveillance that he is troubled? A week ago, Ioffe imagined what life would be like for Snowden in Russia:

The reality that lies before [him] is not that of a Petersburg slum or a cherry orchard. More likely, he will be given an apartment somewhere in the endless, soulless highrises with filthy stairwells that spread like fields around Moscow’s periphery. He will live there for five years before he will be given citizenship. He’ll likely be getting constant visits from the SVR (the Russian NSA) to mine the knowledge he carries in his brain. Maybe, he will be given a show on Russia Today, alongside the guy who got him into this pickle to begin with, Julian Assange. Or he, like repatriated Russian spy Anna Chapman, might be given a fake job at a state-friendly bank where he will do nothing but draw a salary. (Chapman, by the way, recently tweeted this at Snowden: “Snowden, will you marry me?!”) Maybe he will marry a Russian woman, who will quickly shed her supple, feminine skin and become a tyrant, and every dark winter morning, Snowden will sit in his tiny Moscow kitchen, drinking Nescafe while Svetlana cooks something greasy and tasteless, and he will sit staring into his black instant coffee, hating her.

Update from a reader:

Maybe I’ve read too many spy thrillers (and I adore “The Americans” on FX) but what if this all an elaborate plot by the US to plant Snowden in Moscow as a spy! He’s a double double agent!