@ Jim 59
Just because laws between the USA and USSR may differ, doesn't mean the principles - or abilities - do. For example, you argue:
"People could not even leave the USSR on holiday, whereas every American citizen is free to travel the world."
IF they can afford it. Given the wealth distribution curve in the USA, I'd say, at guess, that at least 60% of the population can't afford to leave their home town, let alone travel to another country. So while the laws may imply freedom, the actual outcome, for the majority, is still the same.
"The supreme soviet was unelected, whereas the US citizens have full suffrage."
But giving people the choice between Democrats and Republicans, given that for the average American life stays pretty much the same regardless of who is in power - that is, subject to random search and seizure, indefinite detention without trial, no due process (don't tell me that the Obama Administration has given Snowden anything remotely approaching due process) - so again, the effect is much the same whether there was only one party or two. Western democracy has become a token gesture at best.
"The USA has to keep people out, not shoot people trying to escape like the USSR."
That one I'll give you - considering that you have an overcrowded, poverty-stricken third-world country ruled by brutal drug lords on your southern border. Anything's better than that. But that's the majority of people you have to "keep out"; I don't see too many other westerners trying to set up in America.
"Snowden is being pursued by a democratically elected government that wants to bring criminal charges and give him an open trial."
Ha! Well, for democratically elected government I refer you to my above answer on that subject. The Obama Administration has openly branded him a traitor. No trial, no due process, no "alleged", they've just come straight out and announced on the international stage that he's guilty. There's no chance he'll ever receive a fair trial now. If you believe for one second that if Snowden were to return to the USA he'd be found anything other than guilty on the spot, I'd be interested in selling you the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
To finish, I'd like to quote some excerpts from a letter sent from Snowden's father's lawyer to the Obama Administration:
"We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward... Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial... Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a "traitor"... Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, "This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor." And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of "treason,"..."
Yes, a fair and just trial under a democratic government indeed. You can read the letter in its entirety here.