Two new statements that surfaced on Monday evening offer a tiny bit more Edward Snowden for the world to pore over. One, a translated plea to Ecuador seen by Reuters; the other, an odd message posted at WikiLeaks. They are little fragments of the most interesting news story in the world, but they only shed light on the least important, most knee-jerk part of that story. Which is a disservice.
Snowden is dramatic. That is meant in both the traditional sense of the word as well as its more modern form, a truncation of "melodramatic." That a 30-year-old is dramatic is neither a surprise, nor relevant to the documents he has turned over to the press. The documents, too, are dramatic, but in the quiet way of inanimate objects. No matter how much or what Snowden says, no matter if he spends the rest of his life in a Supermax prison or a superb Ecuadorean beach, there will always be a distinction between his personal drama and the significance of his revelations. That distinction gets lost quickly. Sometimes it is obscured intentionally.
In the letter to Ecuador — apparently seen only by Reuters and reported in dribs and drabs on Monday in the late afternoon, following a day of conflicting reports about his extradition request, Putin included — Snowden most notably writes that he "remain[s] free and able to publish information that serves the public interest." While the Guardian and the Washington Post have all of Snowden's files (as Glenn Greenwald reinforced today), Snowden could of course leak any information he wants at any time. As he has, to eager new audiences like the South China Morning Post and, over the weekend, Der Spiegel.