Edward Snowden’s escape from the United States has heightened tensions between the US, China, and Russia. While China and Russia seem to have no issues with each other, the United States appears to be upset with both.
Despite the US asking for extradition and reportedly revoking Snowden’s passport, the NSA whistleblower left Hong Kong on Sunday and landed in Moscow, Russia.
Snowden was accompanied on the trip by WikiLeaks members, along with some diplomats. The whistleblower is expected to seek political asylum in Ecuador, a fact that could raise tensions between the South American nation and the US.
In response to Snowden’s disappearance in Moscow, the United States on Monday increased its pressure on Russia to hand over the man charged with disclosing secret US surveillance programs.
Despite reports that Snowden has left for Cuba, the United States believes the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor to be in Russia. US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell explained:
“Given our intensified cooperation working with Russia on law enforcement matters … we hope that the Russian government will look at available options to return Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.”
In pleading for asylum, Edward Snowden told the government of Ecuador that he fears inhumane treatment, or even death, if he is returned to the United States to face espionage charges. Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino read a letter from Snowden, where the whistleblower told Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa that he doesn’t expect to get a fair trial.
While the United States apparently revoked Snowden’s passport, the leaker was able to leave Hong Kong after obtaining a “refugee document of passage,” which was issued by Ecuador. It is possible he used the same document to travel to Ecuador or another country without the United States’ knowledge.
While it is unclear what Ecuador’s decision will be, it is already known that, should the country grant asylum to Edward Snowden, it will also face increasing tensions with the United States.