Well I would certainly like him to stay, but for some reason he’s decided to start making things really hard for himself.
Having remained silent on Obama, the guy most responsible for sending him into exile, Snowden has chosen this moment of all moments to make good with the very Lügenpresse that once smeared him as a Russian chekist and support the Soros-funded #WomensMarch against Trump.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 21, 2017
Russia provided asylum on the condition that he refrain from excessive political activism against the US, and this was under Obama. Why would this policy change under Trump of all people? There are several hypotheses:
(1) Attacking Trump is the cool thing to do now, and doing so might give Snowden a chance of claiming asylum in a European state. It is clear that Snowden has always felt unease about his Russia asylum and has ceaselessly – and all things considered, rather rudely – been trying to exchange it for asylum in some European or Latin American state.
(2) Snowden has good reason to believe that he will be part of an eventual pro quid pro deal with Trump, so anything he does now is irrelevant anyway. So he might as well give vent to his true feelings. I certainly don’t blame him for this. He has no reason to like Trump personally, who has implied he would like to see Snowden executed. More importantly, neither Putin nor Trump – authoritarian personalities with no time for “social justice” and who view the surveillance apparatus as a useful tool of the state – sync in the least with his liberal cypherpunk ideals.
And Snowden is an idealist above all else. And that is to his credit.
But unfortunately, the people who run Russia and the US (from both aisles) are not idealists, but hard-nosed realists. Getting Snowden back would be a diplomatic coup for Trump. And I’m sorry, Eddie, but much as Russians might like you – not, of course, for your principled idealism, but for dragging Obama through the dirt – but a deal that would guarantee the safety and security of their compatriots in the Donbass are worth more than one person.
That said, there’s one major disadvantage to Russia of extraditing Snowden: Whereas it previously had a good record of looking out for defectors – even the Yeltsin regime never extradited Western spies for the Soviet Union – future defectors would think twice about going to Russia if they believe they would be used as a bargaining chip whenever the political winds change.
As such, perhaps it would be best for everyone involved, including Snowden himself, to attempt to strike a deal in which he goes back to the US of his “own volition,” but Trump gets to show off his magnanimity by pardoning him soon after and stumping the more principled of his liberal critics, the ones who are genuinely committed to civil rights instead of thinking whatever Soros and the CIA tell them to.
The alternative would be Snowden becoming a cause celebre to the globalists, with their previous smearing of him as a Russian spy and (bipartisan) calls for his imprisonment and even execution being quietly swept under the carpet. Regardless of your own position on whether Snowden is a traitor or not, that is certainly not a scenario we would want.