Best of Slow Journalism: The Snowden Saga

Photo by: Vincent Yu/AP/Press Association Images

Photo by: Vincent Yu/AP/Press Association Images

When Edward Snowden landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport he did not intend to stay for long. The plan was to catch a flight to Havana, then move on to Quito. Ecuador had been Julian Assange’s suggestion – he had allegedly liaised with the UK-based Ecuadorean consul to get a ‘safe passage’ document for Snowden.

But Snowden never got further than Russia. Last week, it was reported he received a three-year residence permit after his one-year asylum ran out on 1st August.

How did he get stuck in Sheremetyevo? In The Snowden Saga: A Shadowland of Secrets and Light, Suzanna Andrews, Bryan Burrough and Sarah Ellison reconstruct the story of “the most important whistle-blower of modern times”.

The article, published in Vanity Fair‘s May edition, describes how a young man with no degree became a contractor for the US National Security Agency; how he got disillusioned by the agency’s surveillance programme and how he eventually started plotting to blow the lid off the operation.

At 19,863 words, The Snowden Saga is a hefty read (it will take you about an hour and 19 minutes by our reckoning). But if you have a morning off this weekend, we can highly recommend this very detailed piece of slow journalism, which reads like a spy novel.

The article is available online here.


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