It is being reported today that NSA whisteblower is en route to Moscow for a connecting flight to Cuba.
Cuba is a somewhat great choice for Snowden, in a potential dream land. There is no denying that it has balmy weather, beautiful beaches and great food. But according to the U.S. State Department, there is an extradition treaty in place which entered into force on March. 2, 1905 (citation 33 Stat. 2265). However, US-Cuba diplomatic ties have been shaky at best for a long time now and it is not possible to say whether they would deport Snowden, if indeed that is his final destination. After all, they may learn some very useful information from the NSA files.
There has been a notable case of fugitives running to Cuba in the past. Take Robert Vesco for example. In the 1970s, he escaped from the U.S. while under investigation by the SEC and ultimately landed in Cuba. The country welcomed him with open arms on the (one and only) condition that he avoid getting into any financial matters.
However, contrast that with the extradition of Leonard B. Auerbach in 2008 and the picture becomes blurred. He once boasted that “I am in some kind of Paradise here and I’m so safe, it’s laughable,”. Alas, it was not to last. Despite the Cuban Foreign Ministry confirming that there is no evidence he committed crimes in the country, it still decided to deport Auerbach because his alleged crimes were “of a grave character and strongly fought by our authorities.”
There has been advisories issued on various social networks and in the media for Snowden to flee to Iceland or Ecuador. But again, the US State Department says that both of these countries have extradition treaties with the US. Iceland’s came into force on Jan. 6, 1902 (citation 32 Stat. 1096) and Ecuador’s on May 29, 1941 (citation 55 Stat. 1196).
Although Iceland does have an extradition treaty with the United States, it is unclear if it would cover any crimes that he might be charged with. As is the same with Ecuador, especially with the whole Julian Assange debacle.
Full list of extradition treaties: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/71600.pdf
So where will he go? Where should he go? Comments welcome.
UPDATE: Ecuador confirms that it is the country that Edward Snowden is seeking asylum.