Ed Snowden could come to NZ

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.