Brighton Beach Russians Respond To Snowden’s Asylum

With the news of the former National Security Agency’s (NSA) Edward Snowden being granted asylum in Russia, WNYC thought it would be interesting to go Brighton Beach to get reactions from former residents of Russia and Soviet Union.

For those who haven’t been closely following the story, Snowden, 29, was a former technical assistant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before landing a job with the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, who does work for the NSA. In a stunning report by the Guardian, Snowden blew the whistle on what he believed were constitutionally illegal activities undertaken by the NSA.

In his position, Snowden discovered that the NSA had the capability of casting a vast surveillance net with the power to record and store the private digital information of every American citizen. Snowden also revealed that the NSA was looking to expand its surveillance powers and decided to blow the whistle so that Americans, and the world at large, would know the true extent of of the operation.

Fearing for his safety, Snowden bolted for Hong Kong and then to Russia, seeking asylum from U.S. authorities, who want to bring him in on charges of treason and espionage. A majority of political leaders on both sides of the aisle and President Barack Obama have defended the NSA programs as being vital to win the war on terror.

The WNYC report includes reactions from Russian immigrants range from sympathy to mistrust. Take a listen above and let us know what you think of the irony of a U.S. citizen taking refuge in a country that Americans have assailed for decades over human rights violations.

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