Snowden a hero not a villain to many

Updated: 2014-02-21 07:06

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

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Snowden a hero not a villain to manyEight months after the first of Edward Snowden's revelations, it is shocking to hear some people in the United States continuing to lambaste him for going to China and Russia.

They say this is because the two countries have questionable records of human rights and freedom of expression. They probably think that Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, should be stupid enough to go to Britain, where the US authorities could easily extradite him and throw him into prison, just like they did to whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a US soldier who leaked information to WikiLeaks and is now serving 35 years behind bars.

The other example is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Also a whistleblower, Assange has been forced to live in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012 because the British authorities want to arrest him on a sexual assault charge at the request of the Swedish authorities.

So a lot of countries simply won't protect Snowden, no matter how much they claim to uphold freedom of speech and how perfect they say their human rights records are.

The truth is that few countries in the world today have the guts to stand up to the pressure and coercion from Washington, except China, Russia, Ecuador and a few others. In this sense, Snowden has chosen to go to the right place.

Not only do such accusations against Snowden not make any sense, their purpose is clearly to divert public attention from the increasingly astonishing revelations by Snowden.

For example, unlike what has been publicly claimed by the US authorities, Snowden told a German TV network three weeks ago that the US National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage, such as targeting the leading German engineering firm Siemens.

US President Barack Obama said in his Jan 17 speech on NSA reforms that the US intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments - as opposed to ordinary citizens - around the world in the same way that the intelligence services of other nations do. "We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective," he stated.

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