Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, explains that, “there was no legal duty on Russia's part to turn (National Security Agency whistleblower Edward) Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.” Mr. Snowden has been granted a one-year visa.
Mr. Falk, “the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights,” writing in an August 5, 2013, post at Al Jazeera English, opines:
The most influential media in the United States has lived up to its pro-government bias in the Snowden Affair in three major ways: firstly, by consistently referring to Snowden by the demeaning designation of 'leaker' rather than as 'whistleblower' or 'surveillance dissident,' both more respectful and accurate.
Secondly, they are completely ignoring the degree to which Russia's grant of temporary refugee status to Snowden for one year was in full accord with the normal level of protection to be given to anyone accused of nonviolent political crimes in a foreign country, and pursued diplomatically and legally by the government that is seeking to indict and prosecute. In effect, for Russia to have turned Snowden over to the United States under these conditions would have been morally and politically scandalous considering the nature of his alleged crimes.
Thirdly, the media's refusal to point out that espionage, the main accusation against Snowden, is the quintessential 'political offense' in international law, and as such is routinely excluded from any list of extraditable offenses. That is, even if there had been an extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, it should have been made clear that there was no legal duty on Russia's part to turn Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.
Mr. Falk said, “If these elements had been clearly articulated, the United States government would have seemed ridiculous if it complained about the willingness of some foreign governments to give Snowden asylum.”
To read the entire post, please see “Snowden's Asylum: 'It's the law, stupid.'”