Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why didn't Snowden board the flight to Cuba?

Why didn't Snowden board the flight to Cuba?
Cuba might be trying to keep its word to the US.
By Anya Landau French, Guest blogger / June 24, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor
Weekly Digital Edition

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor on the
run who leaked information about top secret surveillance activities at
the NSA, didn't board the Aeroflot plane headed for Havana this morning.

Mr. Snowden, who flew from Hong Kong to Moscow last weekend, was
expected to transit Havana next, en route to either Venezuela or Ecuador
(and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is considered likely to accept
him – afterall, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange remains holed up in the
Ecuadorian Embassy in London after more than a year now).

Snowden's transit through Havana seemed obvious to many, given the
decades-long tensions between the US, which is seeking Snowden's return
and has charged him with espionage. And Havana has accepted US fugitives
since the 1960's – the most notorious of whom has recently been added to
the FBI's most wanted list, Joanne Chesimard, a former Black Panther
member who killed a New Jersey State Trooper. Many of these fugitives
remain on the island today and their status is expected to be addressed
in the course of any normalization of relations. So imagine the world's
surprise when Snowden didn't turn up for the Havana-bound flight for
which he was reportedly booked.

But perhaps not everyone was surprised that Snowden didn't board that
flight. In the State Department's 2006 report detailing why it would
continue to list Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, it noted that
Cuban authorities had given assurances they would no longer accept "new"
US fugitives (whether their crimes were considered political or not).
Allowing Snowden to transit Cuba would be a break of faith from that
assurance given. Allowing a fugitive to transit your territory is
tantamount to giving refuge, as the fugitive wouldn't be able to reach
their ultimate destination without the transit stop.

My guess is that the message somehow got to Snowden that if he traveled
through Cuba he would be detained and possibly even returned to the
United States (I suppose an immediate return wouldn't be certain; he
would be the highest value fugitive to pass through in quite some time,
for sure, and I imagine the Cubans might be tempted to consider whether
they could trade him for one or all of their remaining Cuban Five. But
such a strategy might backfire, of course).

Perhaps I'll be proven wrong in the days ahead, but I doubt we'll see
Edward Snowden turn up in Havana any time soon.

Source: "Why didn't Snowden board the flight to Cuba? - CSMonitor.com" -

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