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The Yalies who defend Snowden—and accuse him

Edward Snowden has become one of the country's most famous (or infamous) high school dropouts. But that doesn't mean the fugitive NSA leaker is of no concern to Yale alumni.

It was Tanya Lokshina, a Human Rights Watch attorney in Russia, who met last Friday with "the world's most wanted man" at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. But it was Ken Roth ’80 JD, executive director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, who tweeted Lokshina's photos of the clandestine meeting, where Snowden announced that he would seek temporary asylum in Russia.

"Roth is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, and knows what he’s doing," Time reporter Massimo Calabresi ’89 wrote under the headline "Snowden Makes a Smart Move."

In Calabresi's analysis, "Snowden doesn’t have a great case for asylum. But Human Rights Watch has tried to construct a defense that can turn international law’s vagueness to Snowden’s advantage.”

As another Yalie—Dinah PoKempner ’81, Human Rights Watch's general counsel—makes the case: "Edward Snowden has a serious asylum claim that should be considered fairly by Russia or any other country where he may apply. He should be allowed at least to make that claim and have it heard.”

US authorities say Snowden should return to this country to face espionage charges for leaking massive amounts of information about government surveillance of American citizens, which Snowden downloaded while working as a contractor for the National Security Administration.

A leading spokesman is White House press secretary (and former Calabresi colleague) Jay Carney ’87. Snowden "is not a human rights activist, he is not a dissident," Carney declared this week. "He is accused of leaking classified information."

Filed under Jay Carney, Edward Snowden, Dinah PoKempner, Ken Roth, Massimo Calabresi
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