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July 13, 2013

Snowden in Moscow: “The More Photographed I Am…the More Dangerous my Situation”

Photo of Snowden taken by @HRW’s @TanyaLokshina in Moscow airport now. Meeting has started. http://twitpic.com/d2863z

At first glance, it looked like Edward Snowden was wearing the same blue-gray button down dress shirt that he wore during his interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in that Hong Kong hotel room on June 6, which until now was essentially the only photograph we had of him. That already seems – as it must even more so for him – so long ago. Another continent. Another life. He had already made the decisive step to break with the NSA, but still had a passport, was still free.

Yet without anything else to go by, that image became ubiquitous around the world, reproduced thousands of times in print and online, on TV screens and LED billboard displays, turned into ironic artwork, Xeroxed for demonstrations in his support, truly gone viral. So the thirst for more images – more up-to-date images – has become palpable and unnerving. In a world where there are too many photographs, Snowden managed to remain publicly unseen throughout his flight to Russia and subsequent limbo at Sheremetyevo Airport. So much so that there was doubt if he was even really there.

This is the Snowden-messenger pic.twitter.com/4Qh5cBtV0A Photograph by Olaf Koens.

So, when he invited representatives from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to the airport, the response was explosive. Hundreds of journalists scrambled, and watched as airport staff with the prearranged sign marked “G9”  (a joke on the G8?!?) led the guests through a service door. The scene was exactly what we would expect: the sense of high drama and expectation, the crush of people, the dark suits of burly male officials.

The moment of truth came once the meeting began. Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch made the first photographs of Snowden since Hong Kong. She wrote, “The first thing I thought was how young he looks – like a school kid.” Upon closer inspection, Snowden’s shirt is not the one he wore in Hong Kong. This one has button-down collars; the other one did not. But it’s evident that either his sartorial taste runs quite narrowly — as befitting a classic “computer nerd” — or he’s very specifically controlling his image, or both. In response to a request that he make himself available for more photographs to the assembled media outside the conference room, Snowden said,

“The more photographed I am, understanding the technical capability that the US services have, the more dangerous my situation becomes.”

He’s presumably speaking about facial recognition technology, meaning that the more photos that are taken of him, the easier it will be to make a match if he goes incognito. And on the human detective level, more imagery in more diverse attire could give his pursuers a far clearer picture of his preferences, his available wardrobe, and his mannerisms and appearance in general. It’s pure speculation, of course, if wearing almost the same clothing is intended to limit the sense of what he might look like in disguise or it’s just consistent with the standard tradecraft of a CIA and NSA operative who avoided being photographed long before he went off the reservation.

“I feel safe in Russia”. More on http://www.delo.si pic.twitter.com/HTId0bKVgD Photograph by Polona Frelih.

No journalists were supposed to be admitted, but Polona Frelih of the Slovenian newspaper Delo joined them. In her article, she wrote that “the meeting was attended by 11 representatives of Russian humanitarian organizations and myself I spent there as a representative of one of them.” Austrian journalist Tanja Malle and I asked her on Twitter how she got into the meeting, to which she coyly responded, “I’ve spent a lot in time in Russia to get my way around ; – )” and then “I was there as a journalist. Not that anyone would know.”

She gave further insights on Snowden’s predicament. Frelih tweeted,  “#Snowden is not phantom. Fragile, desperate” and then clarified, “#snowden looked like someone without daylight for long time but strong enough psychologically.” Answering questions about Sarah Harrison and Wikileaks, she wrote, “It’s obvious who is in charge. #wikileaks are the only ones he can count on now” and “S. Harrison is a bossy lady, probably has to be. I will talk first she said at the beginning.” Frelih’s photograph with the hand of Wikileaks crossing Snowden’s face shows this uneasy tension explicitly.

Some answers emerged from the meeting: that Snowden is in fact at the airport; that he continues to be well spoken and articulate, albeit under significant strain. Amnesty and HRW support his right to asylum, though it’s unclear what they can practically or realistically do to help him. His controversial alliance with Wikileaks is a fact for better or worse. As for assessing what kind of shape he’s in from these new photos, it’s hard to say whether his psychological and physical conditions are a glass half full, or half empty; very possibly both. Mostly, the exercise served to confirm accepted narratives rather then spring any surprises.

Old school journalism. http://instagram.com/p/brUx0GyrJv/# Photograph by Olaf Koens.

The waiting media – and the rest of us – will continue to wonder how Edward Snowden’s saga will play out. The latest Quinnipiac poll of Americans suggests that there’s been a shift in attitudes towards the balance between civil liberties and security, with 45% now believing that anti-terrorism programs have gone too far, compared to 25% several years ago, and that 55% consider Snowden a whistleblower rather than a traitor. How long it may take for there to be a shift in policy might be appropriately measured at the pace of that typewriter. Which, incidentally, is making a Snowden-inspired comeback in Russia’s Federal Guard Service (FSO) as a safer way to communicate than computers: They just put in an order for Triumph-Adlers from Germany!

– Alan Chin

h/t: Phelim Kine, Tanja Malle and Polona Frelih

————

A video of part of the meeting; full audio of the meeting: video: Tanya Lokshina from Human Rights Watch: video: Sergei Nikitin from Amnesty International.

  • AustinObserver

    Good report.

  • AustinObserver

    Good report.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ettore.greco2 Ettore Greco

    To all the blinded monkeys:
    On Guard!

    Not against the greed, hypocrisy and selfishness of our culture imported by Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religions. No need to stay on guard against these 3 Religions that for the past 3,000 years have been disgracing the name of God. Instead, stay on guard from an Anglo-Judaic occult society (head of Secret Services in USA, UK and Israel) that plays with these three Religions and bets the Destiny of Humankind in a Plan that is so ambitious it is almost unimaginable.

    Many will remain skeptical in regard to the existence of this Plan in spite of what is in front of their eyes. These people would probably like to see proofs as letters, videotapes or confessions on Live TV. Instead one should connect all the certainties from the past events to recognize the clear Direction already well defined by this Plot. All these circumstances should be more than enough evidence for all those who have eyes to see.

    The media definition of “conspiracy theory” is only there to discredit what is already in front of your eyes.

    9/11 (“false flag” attack planned by Bush & co.)
    7/7 “false flag” in London (Blair seals the Pact with Bush)
    The War in Iraq
    The next expansion of the territory of Israel.
    The future collapse of the World financial system

    All these are not individual events but instead part of the Zionist Plan.

    Many simultaneous rebellions stirred up in Arab Countries will benefit in the end only the State of Israel with the expansion of its territory
    while…..
    in
    Europe and in the US, the financial resources “like magic” will disappear through bailouts, tax cuts and elaborated emergency maneuvers which will be ruled only to appear beneficial for those Countries but instead appositely designed for their collapse (except for England that will push Europe over the precipice).

    It is closer than you think
    The old economy will get to the last stop.
    The internet instead will have its plug pulled

    Through one strategy of Terror and Deception they will continue to monitor and to
    separate all people. The Zionists hope to face many weak and divided oppositions
    rather than one strong and united.

    No weapons or protests in the streets could ever oppose such Plan.

    In this “carousel” orchestrated by the CIA on behalf of the Zionists, the greatest
    danger to Humankind is not from the CIA or the Zionists but is the lack of one
    evolutionary change needed for us to step away from that same Direction marked
    in all history and to become one race distinguished from the Animal kingdom.

    The answer to the Zionist Plan in one word is Wavevolution

    While the revelations are many the reasons why you are invited to know about
    Wavevolution is because now there is a hope for one new beginning and One new Belief in the World.

    A new Science and Religion are one and the same as the Existence of God is not anymore one mysterious dogma.

    http://www.wavevolution.org/en/index.html

  • bks3bks

    Hot women make passes at boys who wear glasses!
    –bks

  • bks3bks

    Hot women make passes at boys who wear glasses!
    –bks

  • Pilgrim

    Wondering why RU gvrmt deny S´s re-application was in deed issued. Maybe a ´play´?

  • Pilgrim

    Wondering why RU gvrmt deny S´s re-application was in deed issued. Maybe a ´play´?

  • Hernz

    The aliens are coming forth disclosure is near

  • Hernz

    The aliens are coming forth disclosure is near

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