Smears, censorship and bananas

This week a smear campaign started against Glenn Greenwald (Greenwald, of course, is the reporter who’s breaking the Edward Snowden story). The New York Daily News, the New York Times and the Washington Post all published stories on Wednesday claiming that Greenwald was once involved in the porn business and owes a large amount of back taxes (here). In anticipation of this, Greenwald published an interesting defence in the Guardian (here). Then, on Thursday, following American threats of sanctions directed at Ecuador in the event that they give Snowden asylum, the Ecuadorean government announced that it was pulling out of a trade agreement with the US, the Andean Trade Preference Act (more than 40% of Ecuador’s exports go to the USA, and a large part of those exports are bananas). As a further snub to the Americans, the Ecuadoreans offered a $23m donation for human rights training in the USA (here). You really couldn’t make this stuff up; but there’s more: on Friday it was revealed that the US military are preventing their service personnel from accessing the Guardian web site and the stuff about Snowden (here). Also on Friday, more was revealed about an apparent rift in the Ecuadorean government with regard to Edward Snowden (here). It seems that the temporary travel documents that Ecuador gave Snowden, to get him from Hong Kong to Moscow, were issued by the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and Julian Assange had a hand in the matter. Ecuador’s president Correa has now revoked these travel documents, leaving Snowden stranded in the transit part of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Yup, you definitely couldn’t make this up.

I won’t speculate too much about what might be going on in the background here, but it does seem likely that Ecuador, after renouncing an important trade agreement with the US this week, is still fully on board with Edward Snowden. President Correa revoking Snowden’s temporary travel documents is perhaps not such a big deal, and could be seen as Correa milking the situation for all it’s worth (it took the best part of two months for Ecuador to grant political asylum to Julian Assange, and all the while the world’s media was focused on the situation). But is Snowden still in Moscow, because he hasn’t actually been seen since leaving Hong Kong last week? We only have president Putin’s word that Snowden is in an airport in Moscow.

One thing seems certain: the delicious twists and turns of the Snowden saga are set to continue. It’s sad that the media in USUK are not giving this story the coverage it deserves (see my previous post).

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