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 3:47 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
updated 5:22 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
updated 12:08 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
updated 7:28 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 6:11 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
updated 6:18 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 1:30 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT