Snowden In Russia: Irony Alert
Well, this is awkward.
“Russian legislation aimed at battling pirated video content online went into effect Thursday despite complaints by the industry against the alleged crackdown on free Internet.
“Branded the ‘Russian SOPA’ after the US anti-piracy initiative, the law makes it easier to block websites that post or link to copyright video content without permission.
“Copyright holders would have to provide documents to the Moscow City Court for a court order before contacting Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor to block the offender.
“Companies in the industry have lambasted the law, saying the measure makes it possible for anyone to block any website with ease and was put together without taking any suggestions from experts into account.”
So here we have the guy who allegedly struck a blow for freedom by releasing confidential information about, among other things, the NSA’s collection of internet data, seeking asylum in a country that is not only notorious for its human rights violations, but specifically passed a bill empowering the government to block internet sites based on accusations of “piracy.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Edward Snowden’s Russian lawyer says his client wants to start learning Russian. Now that the American whistleblower has finally left Sheremetyevo airport for ‘temporary asylum’ in Russia, he might find himself iz ognya da v polymya – out of the frying pan and into the fire. After all, Russia is hardly a bastion of free speech defense. We recommend including a few key terms in any vocabulary lesson . . .”
Ms. Bogert then rattles of a handful of Russian expressions demonstrating that country’s hostility toward free speech advocates and other assorted troublemakers. She concludes with this one:
“Zalozhnik: Not long before his death, Russia’s most famous whistleblower described himself as a ‘hostage’ to a Moscow judge. Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer and accountant, had alleged that Kremlin insiders were involved in a massive scheme to defraud the Russian government of more than $200 million in taxes. Instead of investigating his allegations, the authorities arrested Magnitsky, who died of untreated pancreatitis in a pretrial prison in 2009. This summer, Magnitsky was posthumously convicted of tax evasion.
“Edward Snowden may feel like a zalozhnik to geopolitical forces much greater than himself. He certainly deserves to have his asylum claim heard. But if he stays in Russia for any length of time, he will probably want to familiarize himself with how critics fare with the government that has given him shelter.”
Granted, Snowden’s options were limited – that is to say, his options other than returning to the United States to answer the charges against him. Still, if Russia is the civil liberties hellhole that organizations like Human Rights Watch describe it to be, what message is he sending?
Wait. I’ll answer that question. The message he’s sending is: No one else’s civil liberties matter but his own.
Meanwhile, I wonder if anyone will ask Glenn Greenwald, Snowden’s biggest booster, what he thinks of Russia’s new internet piracy law. After all, Greenwald once tweeted that SOPA (you know, the bill that never made it to a floor vote in Congress) was “a perfect symbol for rotted D.C.: bipartisan servitude to large corporate interests at the expense of liberty & all that’s good.” Apparently, Greenwald’s too busy deflecting criticism of Russia and its tsar-like dictator, Vladimir Putin, to notice.
David von Ebers
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