Why all this matters is simple.

Snowden has built his argument on the moral imperative for leaking the NSA document trove increasingly in terms of human rights, not least relating to privacy.

He has justified his actions by invoking one of the Nuremberg principles – that it is the duty of an individual to break the law of his own state if international law is being broken – and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While that is a compelling argument, what is less convincing is his suggestion that Russia is in the forefront of the fight by the “powerless” against the “powerful”.

Instead, in providing a public relations coup for Putin, Snowden has provided cover for a gross and serial human rights-violating state. Even then, it is not hard to imagine the circumstances how this came about. To sympathise again: exhausted, confused, perhaps, even under pressure, Snowden must feel he has been left by Washington with nowhere else to turn.