Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Edward Snowden, want my advice?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
July 7, 2013 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
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
December 27, 2014 -- Updated 0127 GMT (0927 HKT)
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
Today's politicians should follow Ronald Reagan's advice and invest in science, research and development, Fareed Zakaria says.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Historian Douglas Brinkley says a showing of Sony's film in Austin helped keep the city weird -- and spotlighted the heroes who stood up for free expression
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Tanya Odom that by calling only on women at his press conference, the President made clear why women and people of color should be more visible in boardrooms and conferences
December 27, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
When oil spills happen, researchers are faced with the difficult choice of whether to use chemical dispersants, authors say
December 25, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2312 GMT (0712 HKT)
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0335 GMT (1135 HKT)
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
ADVERTISEMENT