The latest leaker superstar, Ed Snowden could end up flatting with Dotcom in New Zealand says international lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. That's one way to reverse the brain drain

Ed Snowden has done a runner from his hotel in Hong Kong, but is presumably still in the city. Dotcom also spent years in Hong Kong avoiding arrest. They’d have so much in common. A modern day Bonnie and Clyde.

"A more pleasant environment would be New Zealand where he could join Kim Dotcom in resisting extradition,” says Geoffrey Robertson.

He reckons Ed Snowden can avoid extradition to the US because he "hadn't deliberately put lives at risk", so he could claim to be a political fugitive. 

I’m not sure that would stack up in New Zealand. To gain the status of ‘political refugee’ in New Zealand you have to prove that you are being targeted in your own country for political purposes. Ed Snowden is being targeted by the American justice system because he’s broken the law. The same law that would apply in New Zealand.

But it does show that New Zealand has a good reputation for being ‘the good guys you can trust’. We respect the rule of law, which is why Dotcom is still here.

Whether or not Snowden has ‘put lives at risk’ is also debatable.

David Brooks of the New York Times argues that far from being a whistleblowing hero, he’s narcissistic; a product of the solitary ‘me’ generation who fail to see the value of collective institutions set up to look after us all. 

“Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.”

Snowden is no hero. Unless you believe that there is never a case for governments to intercept communications when you suspect a crime is being planned. In which case life becomes very easy for the bad guys. 

Processes have to be in place to protect the innocent, and as a society we have to debate what kind of evidence should be provided before you decide to spy on people. That’s why I don’t like John Key’s idea that the SIS can spy on New Zealanders with the help of the GCSB. Who is providing the warrants? What is the criteria for deciding that a New Zealander is a security risk? Americans may want to debate the processes around the NSA. But it looks like its inceptions were legally authorised, in which case due process (with judicial and congressional oversight - Ed) has been followed. 

He wasn’t blowing the whistle on anything illegal; he was exposing something that failed to meet his own standards of propriety,” wrote Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker

Leaking is a healthy and necessary practice in any democracy (Peter Dunne would agree). But it looks like Snowden just dumped a bunch of information on the media without thinking about the consequences for others, or how his actions might compromise security. Even The Guardian and The Washington Post who benefited from the leak, decided that some of this material should not be made public because it would damage efforts to keep people safe.

So far it looks like ego drove Ed Snowden, not justice.

Comments (4)

by Petone on June 12, 2013

re:"Snowden is no hero. Unless you believe that there is never a case for governments to intercept communications when you suspect a crime is being planned".

This is not Snowden's point. His point is that his government is intercepting communications of everyone, everywhere, irrespective of whether a crime is suspected.

re "So far it looks like ego drove Ed Snowden, not justice."

Well, I suppose if you're part of that rising tide of distrust, that corrosive spread of cynicism, and disbelieve everything that Snowden says, then yes you could look at it that way!




by stuart munro on June 12, 2013
stuart munro

Snowden appears to be a sincere and talented individual. There is no future for him in New Zealand.

by Craig on July 16, 2013

You'd have to have quite an ego to knowingly destroy what by all accounts was a reasonable life in return for a bit of fame/noteriety.

Can't see it myself.

by Petone on July 18, 2013

Josie I wonder if you see comments on your older articles.

And I wonder if you'll read the transcript of this speech, by someone somewhat better informed..


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