Given the similarity of their situations—a point he often repeats—WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been helping former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden with his asylum applications. Last night, WikiLeaks disclosed a long list of countries to which Snowden wants to flee. Some of these countries have already begun to respond, mostly arguing that in order for them to consider his asylum request, Snowden would already have to be in-country. I've crossed off the ones that have said as much.
- The Netherlands
Norway Poland Russia Spain
Even many of the countries still on the list are out of bounds to Snowden, whose passport was revoked by the United States. That doesn't necessarily mean he can't travel—nor does it mean his citizenship has been invalidated, as he's claimed—but it does mean that to get into any of these countries, someone high up would have to overlook the passport issue entirely. And that's before dealing with the sticky question of granting asylum.
Ecuador already turned Snowden away. Snowden just came from China, which makes it unlikely he'd go back. He missed his flight to Cuba. Russia offered to let him stay on one condition: That he stop leaking classified information. Yesterday, Snowden threatened to release more, which pretty much ruins his shot at Russian asylum.
France and Germany are upset about the Obama administration's surveillance programs in principle and also, increasingly, in practice as more details emerge about the National Security Agency's spying on the European Union. But neither of them appear upset enough to risk their necks for Snowden. As The Washington Post's Max Fisher explained, what Snowden didn't anticipate is how the complexity of international politics has played an outsized role in determining the leaker's fate, rather than the merits of Snowden's case in particular. And that goes for virtually every other country on this list. Nobody wants to piss off the United States.