History shows Snowden may face tough exile in Russia

Former Russian intelligence officers said things will not be easy for Snowden – a highly interesting catch for the Kremlin – if the legacy of earlier defections is any guide.

“Precedents show us that life is hard for defectors from their countries,” Lev Korolkov, a former officer in the Soviet KGB security service, told Reuters.

“They experience a huge internal stress that can last for a very long time, sometimes for the rest of their lives – even for those who stayed, such as Kim Philby,” he said, referring to one of the British ‘Cambridge ring’ who spied for the Soviet Union during and after World War Two. …

Snowden is not the first employee of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to defect to Moscow.

NSA cryptologists William Martin and Bernon Mitchell defected to the Soviet Union during the Cold War in 1960 because of disenchantment with U.S. intelligence gathering methods. …

But Martin later called his choice foolhardy as he became disillusioned with the less than ideal life in the Soviet Union and the relevance of their revelations quickly faded.