Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What in the World Can Edward Snowden Possibly Do All Day at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport?

By Brian Palmer
NSA leaker Edward Snowden has reportedly spent the last week in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, although journalists have been unable to spot him. What can you find in a transit zone?
Hotels, restaurants, and unfortunate souls. You’re probably familiar with the public portion of a transit zone, which typically offers plenty of amenities. Sheremetyevo airport’s transit zone encompasses three terminals and includes both the V-Express capsule hotel and one wing of the Novotel. Travelers can buy a Vopper from Burger King or nosh on a Cinnabon.
There’s a separate area, however, that few travelers ever see: the detention rooms. Almost all international airports have these spaces, where refugees and others with uncertain immigration status wait to be admitted to the country or shipped back from whence they came. Human rights advocates say the transit-zone detention facilities in Eastern European airports are among the world’s worst. They are one- or two-room suites with more detainees than beds and sometimes just one toilet for every 20 people. The airlines are usually responsible for detainee care, and some of them allegedly scrimp on food and medicine. There is limited contact with the outside world, and in the worst transit zones, like some in Bulgaria, Romania, and the Slovak Republic, refugees are given no opportunity to meet with a lawyer or file an asylum claim. The rooms in some transit zones are locked, although detainees are usually allowed to wander parts of the airport when no other travelers are around. People have spent as much as 20 months living in the transit zone in Sheremetyevo airport. (The most famous transit-zone dweller was Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who stayed in Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle Airport for 17 years, but he moved freely within the terminal.)

1 comment:

  1. Read the great Russian writers, if he hasn't already.