Where is Edward Snowden? The NSA whistleblower, who has been living in exile in Russia since 2013, has not apparently made any public statement ever since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The silence of Snowden, who disclosed the US' worldwide classified surveillance program in 2013, has perplexed geopolitical observers. The computer intelligence consultant had earlier worked for the CIA and also played a contractor role for the country's National Security Agency.
In the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, Snowden has not publically spoken a word, apparently signaling his support for the invasion. It could also mean that his silence is mandatory for his survival in Russia.
Currently, Snowden holds the presidency of a California-based organization, Freedom of the Press Foundation, which tracks press freedom violations in the US.
The profile which Snowden holds makes him a key figure to keep fighting against atrocities and he has been a critic of the US government for many years over the smaller issues.
But since the war began, his digital presence seems to be quiet.
For the years, Snowden has been an advocate of citizen's rights also.
Two months back, the Danish government had threatened to impose lengthy prison sentences against media persons who were reporting on state secrets. Snowden on January 26 criticized the move blatantly and urged the Danish citizens to resist their government.
But Snowden did not come to actively criticize or raise his voice last week when Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a law, threatening imprisonment of up to 15 years for what Moscow terns as fake information. The law led to the suspension of operation of multiple western news organizations in Russia.
The Russian law even threatens any semblance of normal journalism in the country.
Regarding Russian law, a comment was requested from Snowden and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. But both have not responded so far.
Snowden Criticised The US
In early February, when the US and the West were criticizing Moscow over deploying a large number of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border, Snowden criticized the Biden administration for claiming Russia's invasion was imminent and blasting American media for "pushing for war."
On February 15, Snowden tweeted, "So... if nobody shows up for the invasion Biden scheduled for tomorrow morning at 3 AM, I'm not saying your journalistic credibility was instrumentalized as part of one of those disinformation campaigns you like to write about, but you should at least consider the possibility."
The last public comment which Snowden made was on February 27. "I'm not suspended from the ceiling above a barrel of acid by a rope that burns a little faster every time I tweet, you concern-trolling ghouls. I've just lost any confidence I had that sharing my thinking on this particular topic continues to be useful because I called it wrong," he tweeted.
Permanent Residency in Russia
In October 2020, Snowden received permanent residency in Russia but he has been maintaining that he has neither cooperated with Moscow nor received funding from the Russian government.
Snowden had also worked for the CIA. He left his job at Hawaii's NSA facility in 2013 and fled to Hong Kong, where he revealed disclosed hundreds of thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists. The US and its allies' global surveillance operation was also revealed by Snowden, which led Washington to charge him over violating the Espionage Act. Since then, Snowden had taken asylum in Russia and lives in Moscow.
Snowden revealed not just domestic surveillance programs, but also exposed global national security operations by the U.S. and its allies. Snowden, who was granted asylum by Russia and lives in Moscow, was charged with violating the Espionage Act.
Why is He Useful at The Time of War?
Snowden had also claimed that during his roles in NSA, he and his teammates used to hack network backbones which would provide them access to the communication of hundreds of computers, a key practice which is essential for superpowers at the time of war to monitor the enemy's movement, their plans and cause damage to them.
Snowden also claimed that NSA hacked Chinese cellphone companies and the Chinese universities were also hacked by the NSA.