Television programs broadcast on Russia's two largest federal channels and "almost certainly produced under Kremlin orders" have made Edward Snowden into a hero for the Russian people, the New York Times reported Saturday.
The programs, which aired Thursday, compared the source of the National Security Agency leaks to famous dissidents and spies such as Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, according to the Times. One program described Snowden as "a soldier of the information war, who fights, of course, on the side of Russia, or maybe the side of China."
Igor M. Bunin, the director of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow, told the Times that Russia turning Snowden over to the U.S. government would be "a slap in the face of public opinion because he is already a hero in Russia and part of the West." He added that not turning Snowden in, however, would "destroy" Russia's diplomatic relations with America.
Snowden has remained out of sight in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since he landed there last Sunday.