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article imageOp-Ed: The US not Russia is the bully in the Snowden case

By Ken Hanly     Aug 5, 2013 in Politics
Washington - US Senator Charles Schumer of New York claims that the granting of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden has poisoned relations between the two countries.
Schumer urged President Obama to consider moving next month's meeting of the Group of 20 away from the St. Petersburg in Russia where it is scheduled to take place. On CBS TV talk show "Face the Nation" Schumer said: "President Putin is behaving like a schoolyard bully. In my experience, I've learned unless you stand up to that bully, they ask for more and more and more."
Schumer is the third ranking Democrat in the US Senate and a close ally of Obama. He said that the president should cancel plans to meet Putin in Moscow for a bilateral summit next month. Schumer adds that the president should "urge our allies, if it were possible," to try to move the G20 summit from St. Petersburg in Russia to a city in another country. There is bipartisan support for Schumer's position with Republican Paul Ryan supporting Schumer's view that Russia should be punished for its actions.
Ryan accuses Obama of appeasement as the president tries to reset relations starting in 2009. General Martin Dempsey, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff was a bit less militant than the politicians saying only that the Russian actions were disappointing.
It is surely the US that is being the schoolyard bully, through its actions. As Richard Falk has pointed out in an Al Jazeera article Russia has no legal, political or moral duty to turn Snowden over to US authorities. If Snowden committed a crime it was a political offense. There is no obligation to extradite Snowden for such an offense even if there were an extradition treaty between the two countries, which there is not.
Obama should be happy that Putin made it a condition of granting Snowden temporary asylum that he not release further information damaging to the US. He did not need to do that and he has received actually zero recognition from the US for doing so.
Many around the world would characterize the US actions over Snowden as being those not of the schoolyard bully but the global bully.
From the very first the US lashed out against China and Hong Kong for allowing Snowden to travel out of Hong Kong. Even a former UK Intelligence Agent calls the US actions bullying.
As Michael Rattner, an expert in international law put it: "The U.S. is doing everything they can do to interfere with [Snowden's effort to gain asylum].They're bullying countries all over the world, even where they have no basis for doing so... Bullying them essentially so that they can get Ed Snowden rendered to the United States where he can be prosecuted."
The US was also behind the denial of air space to the presidential plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales. He was forced to land in Austria where his plane was searched to see if Snowden were on board. The Australian journalist , John Pilger, puts the event in perspective; "Imagine the aircraft of the President of France being forced down in Latin America on "suspicion" that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale. "
Apparently, the global bully can just pick up the phone and have France, Spain, and Portugal deny their air space to a presidential plane and force it to land and be searched. Pilger does not mince words about the event: The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane – denied air space by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about edward snowden, US Russia relations, Charles schumer
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