It’s polite, upmarket, trashing for Serious, Responsible People; but it is trashing:
The thesis that ‘these fears do not qualify him for asylum’ is implicitly predicated on the facts that (A) his activity was mere crime, rather than ‘political’ (because we don’t deny that political asylum is a Thing, it just doesn’t apply in this case because um, something, mumble, mumble.) and (B) He merely fears ‘prosecution’ (ie. a nice, orderly, working of rule of law), rather than ‘persecution’ (which, again, we don’t deny is a Thing and would qualify you for asylum; but that clearly isn’t an issue here; because um, something, never mind about that Manning fellow.)
The ‘And does he really feel safer’ line is just a throwaway rhetorical question, that manages to pack a false dichotomy and a non-sequitor into one sentence (I’ll give them credit for parsimony). Is Putin an authoritarian with a taste for persecuting people he finds inconvenient? You bet. Is it pitifully ridiculous to even ask whether Putin’s wrath (which Snowden hasn’t stirred up, and has no particular reason to expect) is a greater safety risk that America’s (which he has, and does)? Of course. That’s an incredibly dumb question. Nobody is under the slightest illusions about the fact that Snowden’s asylum choices are mostly countries that have an interest in thumbing their nose at the US, rather than the Edenic Republic of Freedomstan. The domestic-repression index of a given country is nearly irrelevant to whether or not it’s a good place to hide out from the feds.