Wikileaks: the World’s Worst Travel Agency

English: A van that purports to be the 'WikiLe...

A van that purports to be the ‘WikiLeaks Top Secret Information Collecution Unit’ parked at Occupy Wall Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, is Ed Snowden going to make it out of Moscow airport? As I write, he is still holed up in the transit section, a month on from his hopeful arrival, waiting for some paperwork that will let him enter Russia. That’s a pretty poor result, given he never wanted to enter Russia in the first place.

He must be wishing he’d never travelled with Wikileaks, the world’s worst travel agency. Want to fly from Hong Kong to sunny Venezuela? Fly Wikileaks, and you’ll get to spend a month in Moscow airport, before finally begging Vladimir Putin to let you into the country.

Want to travel from London to Ecuador, and avoid any embarrassing Swedish enocunters? No problem. Travel Wikileaks, and cut your travel time to a quick taxi dash across town to the Ecuadorean Embassy, where you’ll get to spend the next 13 months! The luxury accomodation includes a bijou, intimate converted office, a treadmill, and a sun lamp to top up your tan.

Want to get out of Iraq? Travel Wikileaks, and you could be staying in the unparallelled luxury of a US military prison — and you’ll have it all to yourself, because you’ll be held in solitary confinement.

Ed Snowden should have taken one look at Wikileaks’ track record, and when its representative Sarah Harrison turned up in Hong Kong to help him, he should have thanked her politely and said he’d be making his own arrangements. This is an organisation that can’t get its own leader out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Why would you rely on them to get you halfway round the world?

But then Mr Snowden’s sorry trek around the world seems full of strange decisions. When you’re a wanted man, surely the usual practice is not to announce you’re going to be on international flights in advance, but to try to slip out when no one’s looking.

Come to think of it, why announce that you’re in Hong Kong in the first place? If you’re on the lam, keep quiet and try not to get noticed.

Mr Snowden used to work in intelligence, but it seems he took lessons in fieldwork from the Roger Moore incarnation of James Bond, surely the world’s most incompetent spy, who would slip into cities undercover only to be greeted by gunmen with the words: “James Bond 007, of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we’ve been expecting you.”

Perhaps Mr Snowden feels that, having blown the Americans’ secrets, it’s only fair for him to give them a heads-up on his own whereabouts.

The problem with this is that the US clearly has no intention of playing by Mr Snowden’s rules. No intention of saying “Oh well, if Venezuela will give you asylum, that’s fine by us. Have a nice flight.”

No, Mr Snowden has found himself in an altogether less pleasant world, where his only hope now is a deal with the Russians, who I suspect have no intention of letting him go and lead a quiet life in a dacha outside Moscow. Russia is a resurgent geopolitical force, it’s been squaring up to the US over Syria, and I rather think Mr Snowden will find himself a pawn in a power game — one that is part of the very cloak-and-dagger world he was against.

There’s a touch of the tragic about his story. A naive idealist who thought he could change the world, just by telling the truth. I must be growing cynical, but I wasn’t even that surprised by his revelations. The US and the British spying on their own citizens? Really?

Yeah, well hataz gonna hate. Spies gonna spy.

Which is not to say that it’s okay. Because it’s not okay. Not at all. And it’s not okay that this man, who told us that our own governments are spying on us, can be hounded around the world and end up trapped between two powers, his life effectively over in the sense that he will have any control over it or say in it.

Ed Snowden was wrong to trust that he could just tell the truth and everything would be alright. That’s not the way the world works. The way it does work is that the Bolivian president’s plane can be forced to land in Vienna or face running out of fuel, just because European governments think Mr Snowden might be on board. Even when it turns out he wasn’t.

The way it works is that the only countries willing to offer him asylum are not doing it out of any commitment to freedom of information or the rights of the individual, but because their governments want to get one over on the Americans, and Ed Snowden is a pawn in their game.

That’s the way the world works, and it will be as long as people are willing to give up their rights and freedoms to the first person who comes along waving a flag and promising them security.

I hear the weather’s beautiful in Russia this time of year.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Wikileaks? How long before an enterprising Ukish plumber realises the potential for free advertising and renames his business?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.