The Hill On Snowden's Travel Options

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Written by Mark Weisbrot   
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 22:39

This article in The Hill, Obama administration set to make NSA leaker Snowdens trip tough, looks at some of the possibilities for Snowden flying to safety without running into interference from the U.S. government or its allies.  It contains this interesting speculation:

“Morales was forced to refuel in Austria, which is not a NATO member. Snowden was not aboard the flight, but some have speculated that it might have been a dry run to test how a flight carrying the accused felon would fare over NATO-member countries.”

Dry run by whom?  I don't think Evo could have fooled the U.S. into thinking that Snowden was on his plane.  More likely a "dry run" by the U.S. -- especially since they were almost certainly watching Evo's plane and knew exactly who boarded it and who didn't.  If U.S. intelligence agencies didn't do that, then they are more incompetent than anyone can imagine.

The article isn’t very convincing on the eastern route:

“Traveling eastward from Moscow also looks dim. It would involve a nearly eight-hour flight across Russia that would touch dangerously close to Chinese and Japanese airspace. There would be no likely sympathetic refueling destination in the Pacific Ocean on the way toward South America.”

It’s not clear what the problem is with Chinese airspace; there is no evidence that they want to interfere with Snowden’s travels.  Also, it’s not clear why Snowden couldn’t refuel in eastern Russia, and then fly down the Pacific in international air space to friendly countries in South America, which would be well within range of a non-stop flight for a decent private plane.

The question then would be whether the U.S. would flagrantly violate international law, and do what Obama previously said he wouldnt do, by going after his plane in international air space.  This is something that a reporter should ask the White House.