This module is a resource for lecturers

Thinking critically through fiction

Movies seek to entertain and inform the audience about a story, incident, or person. Many good movies also hit upon important substantive themes relevant to understanding organized crime. Read the following movie summary (and watch the movie if you have not done so already) and answer the questions that follow to make the organized crime subject matter connections. Please, bear in mind that movies often simplify reality and might perpetuate stereotypes.

Snowden (2016) - Oliver Stone, Director

Photo Credit

A CIA employee, Edward Snowden, knows that a virtual mountain of data is being assembled to track all forms of digital communication, not just from foreign governments and terrorist groups, but from ordinary Americans. Disillusioned with the intelligence community, he smuggles a microSD card into his office and copies agency's secret data about global surveillance programmes on it. He decides to leak this classified information and becomes a traitor to the USA government. As CIA information is disseminated to the press, Snowden leaves for Hong Kong on a flight bound for Latin America via Russia. As the USA government revokes his passport, Snowden is forced to interrupt his trip in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport and remain in Moscow.

Discussion question

Although the case of Snowden did not involve organized crime, it represents a well-known case in which the requested State (Russia) refused the extradition request issued by the United States of America.

  • What are the current charges of the USA government against Edward Snowden?
  • What values are in conflict in this case? What harm did Snowden cause? What benefits did his actions bring? What are the ethical and moral considerations?
  • What is Snowden's current status and what are his current activities? Why did the Russian authorities refuse to extradite him?

Special assignment

  • Students are asked to write a formal extradition refusal from the Russian authorities, listing the main legal grounds for refusing the extradition request from the United States.