Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Edward Snowden, want my advice?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 1:35 PM EDT, Sun July 7, 2013
CNN's John Defterios and his crew have been inside the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport for more than 24 hours. Like Edward Snowden, he cannot step foot on Russian soil without special visa clearance. Pictured here on June 26, Defterios surveys part of his new land: Terminals D, E and F. CNN's John Defterios and his crew have been inside the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport for more than 24 hours. Like Edward Snowden, he cannot step foot on Russian soil without special visa clearance. Pictured here on June 26, Defterios surveys part of his new land: Terminals D, E and F.
HIDE CAPTION
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
Inside Moscow Airport's 'no man's land'
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Snowden, you're stuck in Moscow airport; let me suggest options
  • Why not pitch reality show with a Kardashian: Project Runway, where object is to get on one
  • Ecuador, Venezuala still asylum possibilities. Choose Venezuela: great beaches, B&Bs
  • Obeidallah: Take a page from Clapper, who misled Congress under oath: Just say you're sorry

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- Edward Snowden, you need help! And I'm here for you. I enjoy offering people suggestions -- which you may even be aware of if you read my e-mails when you were working at the NSA.

I don't know where you thought you'd end up after disclosing classified documents detailing our government's surveillance program, but I doubt you thought you'd be roaming the halls of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport checking out the wide range of restaurants there-- the Russian cuisine at "Mama Rashas;" maybe the Burger King or the restaurant in Terminal D called, "Hippopotamus" -- which, I think you'll agree, is a horrible name for a place that serves food.

It must drive you crazy to know that the airport even offers a fear-of-flying treatment center for people afraid to fly while you are still begging for just a seat in coach. I know you grow bored browsing for hours at the duty-free shop, wishing you had a plane ticket so you could at least buy tax-free caviar or vodka.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

So Edward, I want to propose some creative suggestions that you may find helpful.

1. If you can't get out of airport, pitch a reality show about being stuck there. It could be an international version of "Project Runway" -- how to get on one. How hard could it be to get a Kardashian to sign on?

2. At this writing, you have applied for asylum in -- depending on whom you ask -- 21 countries. WikiLeaks claimed Friday that you have applied to six additional unidentified countries, and the Venezuelan president said that he was ready to take you, according to reports. Bolivia appears to be following suit. That would be a break, because with some of these other nations you clearly have no shot. It's not unlike when I was graduating high school with mediocre grades and applied to Harvard. Barring a clerical error, I was not getting in and I'd say it's the same for you. So say goodbye to countries like Germany, Italy, and Spain.

But it appears you've got "safety school" nations: Venezuela, Bolivia, maybe Ecuador. You may end up getting into several, but which do you pick?

Here's my take. Forget legal issues, like extradition treaties. What will really matter to your quality of life is what people have said about those two countries on Expedia.com and Trip adviser.

For example: Sure, Ecuador offers a quaint old section of its capital, Quito, which does look picturesque. But Venezuela offers more. For starters, TripAdvisor tells us about a great selection of bed-and-breakfasts in Caracas, the best rated being the Beuenavista Inn. People noted online that it's "nice and cozy," close to the airport and has free Wi-Fi -- which, word has it, is something you would really treasure. And I'll bet you could get a great deal on Priceline for this place.

Snowden's name used to sell lingerie
What will Edward Snowden do next?

And listen, the city has terrific restaurants, with many raves for the Maute Grill -- a steakhouse with an extensive late-night menu, for those sleepless nights spent looking over your shoulder. Also if you get bored in Caracas, there are always the beautiful beaches of Playa el Aguan where few will recognize you because everyone looks different with their clothes off.

But don't limit youself! Why not consider asylum in a few countries you have not applied to yet? For example: Egypt. Sure it seems a bit unstable now but who will notice you entering? Plus, I'm friendly with comedian/talk show host Bassem Youssef, the "Jon Stewart of Egypt." No promises, but I think I can get you on his show.

There's also Turkmenistan -- J-Lo just sang there last week, so apparently they will allow anyone enter the country.

3. Another option: Return to America and face the criminal charges against you. You could possibly win the case or be offered an acceptable plea deal.

Or you can follow the lead of James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence. When Clapper was questioned under oath by Congress in March about whether the National Security Agency collects "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans," he answered "no...not wittingly." Obviously the documents you leaked show that Clapper was being less than fully honest with Congress.

BUT, this week he defended his misleading answer to Congress by stating: "My response was clearly erroneous -- for which I apologize."

So just say you're sorry. It seems to have worked out well for Clapper, because congressional leaders are not calling for him to be criminally prosecuted. Instead, they are just focused on pursuing you for revealing details about the spying program that Clapper was hiding from Congress.

So, Edward, you have a lot of options. Give it some thought. Maybe while enjoying some "pan seared pot stickers" at the T. G. I. Friday's in Terminal F.

But don't take too long, because I sense that you're just like the friend you let stay on your couch while he gets his life in order. Soon the Russians will soon want you to crash somewhere else.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery support the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT