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Someone believes they are the only person with highly strategically useful powers. However, they can't make the best use of them without revealing themselves, so what countries would be the safest places to do that?

An example of an appropriate power would be: The ability to very slowly open and close portals, as a long ritual that requires your hands to be free. As the power is limited enough that a country like the US could easily hold you captive indefinitely. Remote sensing is an even better example power as a nation could easily hide their use of it (though a worse example in that you staying secret is actually feasible).

Essentially you have powers so useful most countries would try to kidnap you and use you as a weapon/strategic resource given the chance.

Assume that we are going with the most uncharitable plausible prediction of governments, organizations, people, etc based on their past actions. That being said few organizations that could protect you here lack scandals that suggest they are constrained only by PR not by ethics.

So what countries are you most likely to be able to seek refuge in and negotiate with? That won't just take what they want from you by force..

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    $\begingroup$ There seems an assumption here that all governments are corrupt, that the leaders are actively evil, and that they simply disappear whomever they like whenever they like. Since that's NOT most of the world that we live in, we would need to know more about these fictional countries to help you decide. I'm-gonna-kidnap-you-and-use-your-superpowers is a trope in The Wizard Of Oz, where the protagonist escapes, of course, to the safety of Kansas. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jun 21 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ @user535733 If you think there is a single government in the whole world that wouldn't treat the ability of opening a portal out of nowhere into whatever ultrasecure spot of their choice as a security menace of the fisrt order, there's a beautiful red bridge in San Francisco that I'd love to sell you. Kidnapping and torture you? Not necessarily, if I can pay you $10,000,000 a year to collaborate in our scientific research on portals. You'll have to follow certain strict security protocols, bodyguards are there for your security, you can't leave the country and actually you can't refuse. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Jun 21 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ I've upvoted DWKraus' answer, but I think this question needs to clarify what are the objectives of the superhuman. Does he want to live a quiet, normal life? Just never use his powers. Does he wants to become rich and famous? Sell his powers to the highest bider, undoubtely the USA. Does he wants to profit from his powers without being on the payroll of anybody, because he fears to lose much of his freedom? Then you should specify more concretely which powers are his. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Jun 21 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ I think a lot depends on the actual powers in question. If they can be militarized, or better yet, used to gain an economical advantage, i'd bet that there is not a single powerful organization and not a single government anywhere that you could trust. Plus, those you know you can't trust won't just stand aside and sulk about not being able to exploit you. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Jun 21 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ A portal is like an unauthorized leak in spacetime. Ask Julian Assange which country he'd trust. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 11:46

8 Answers 8

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Forget countries, enlist the rich.

Firstly: Tell anyone who needs to know - it only works when you're happy and not feeling threatened.

There's a certain push to set-up Mars colony. Appearing in Mr. Musk's sitting-room one fine afternoon and offering a short-cut to ways to get resources to Mars - water, habitats, equipment, personnel could well be very attractive to the entrepreneur. It'd then be very easy to set-up a base there for exploring the surface and "doing the science" necessary to get a full-blown colony on its feet.

The chances are, he would enlist his mates, including the many world-leaders who would undoubtedly take his call - the resources available to you would multiply. Since it requires your cooperation to open the portals, I'd expect you to be very well treated, and for the long-term, voyages to Europa and other spots of interest could be on the cards.

Because of the preciousness of your gift, you might need to make sacrifices; to have offspring with the most intelligent and physically best specimens of the female of the human race - the gift must be passed on and preserved.

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    $\begingroup$ "Since it requires your cooperation to open the portals, I'd expect you to be very well treated" what worries me is that coercing you is much cheaper than not exploiting you $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ If you coerce them then you don't have to split the profit , and your leverage is them not wanting to be tortured. Also they can't decide to move their business elsewhere if they get a better offer $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ So, you're assuming that human nature is such that cooperation is impossible and coercion is inevitable. That's not how people are for the most part - but if it's how your world works, the you should edit the question to say that - but to be fair, it's difficult to imagine how a society could have come about in the first place without cooperation and trust - everyone would be solitary and murderous. @VakusDrake $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JiminyCricket. Unfortunately, governments don't have a great track record of behaving well about something new and valuable. Can you name a politician you would trust utterly and without question? You are LIKELY to be okay, but being afraid of things going badly is far from crazy. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 21 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ "Because of the preciousness of your gift, you might need to make sacrifices, to have offspring with..." That sounds highly unlikely and more among the lines of a weird fantasy. There is no reason not to simply extract semen or egg cells and artificially continue a lineage. $\endgroup$
    – Squary94
    Jun 21 at 12:09
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Countries cannot be trusted, fundamentally

Any country is an open collection of individuals. Democracies elect their leadership, monarchies inherit, dictatorships take by force.

In addition, countries are defined by their sovereignty, which means they are not accountable to anyone but their own interest. International law is a collection of mutually favorable treaties, i.e. promises to assist or not to harm one another under specific conditions. They have rarely held up past the point when breaking them was more profitable than upholding.

To trust a country is to trust that no individual will ever come to power within a specific geographic area, that might at any point be not in favor of your deal. I think there might be a ward for that.

Any deal between a country and an individual is void per se, and its only security is a better chance to obtain similar deals in the future. If there's more superheroes to recruit, that might work. If there's only one...

Who can you trust, then?

Trust those whom you can kill, or otherwise harm beyond the possible gains they can obtain by crossing you.

Since the powers in question don't seem to prevent capture, you would have to rely on other individuals to do harm to those who would cross you.

To make other individuals harm someone else on your behalf, you need to make your absence more painful to them than the pain they fear from whoever they need to protect you from.

In other words: Create an organization. It can be a cult, or it can be a commercial entity, or any other power base that has you at the top and depends on you for their continued existence or prosperity. Make your value indisputable to them, either rationally or irrationally.

Then and only then will you be in a position to make deals. Ideally, with countries and entities that can be painfully harmed by your power base.

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Most Western Countries will Treat Your MC Well

There have been real people in this world with real super powers that can put your ritual portal power to shame. One such person I've meet was arrested in the late '90s for hacking into NATO warships and making them target each other warships. He's also hacked into Nuclear Research facilities, airport control towers, and all sorts of other highly sensitive military, intelligence, and civilian targets. While his gifts today are not nearly as unique as they were back then, at the time he was the one and only person on the planet that the US government knew of that could do such a thing.

Even though his crimes made it quite possible to just lock him up, the government decided to allow him to work off his crimes as a State Sponsored Hacker for a few years by helping them fix the security holes that allowed him to perform these hacks, and now he is the owner of a private cyber security firm in the USA. Completely free to live his life as he wants despite being one of the most individually dangerous people you could imagine and having done crimes that (had he not been uniquely able to do) would have probably resulted in a VERY long prison sentence.

The reality is that locking someone up and throwing away the key for having a unique and useful skill set is the dumbest thing you can do to try to do if you want to control them. When you stop thinking like a cliché story writer looking for plot hooks, and start thinking like an actual government agency who wants to reproduce this person's powers, humane treatment makes a lot more since. If you want to study the power, you will need the portal wizard to activate it on command over and over again so that your instruments can get good readings on the portal, his brain, and his body. You can't make an unwilling participant sit still for MRI. If you have to drug him to keep him from escaping, there is no guarantee that he will even be able to use his powers at all for study. And most importantly, a person left without any freedoms or future to look forward to has no incentive to serve you, and every reason to betray you. If your portal wizard felt like he had nothing too lose, he might as well open a portal to the sun and destroy your whole facility just to spite you. You can't afterall know if his portal is going to the sun until AFTER you've studied his power.

Instead, the preferred method that Western Nations use to control someone is to make sure they have everything to lose if they turn against you. Pay them a generous salary so that their livelihood depends on you. Let them have have a life so that they can get married and have kids that they feel beholden to provide for and protect. Make sure that your country feels so much like home, that they WANT to protect and work for it.

The core problem most people make when writing about this sort of thing is assuming that greed will always lead us to exploit each other through the most controlling means at our disposal, when in reality, human greed actually leads us to exploit each other through the most effective means at our disposal. Once the MC is in the custody of a national government, his handling will be assigned to a trained military and/or intelligence officer who specializes in handling people with special talents who will know better than to try to control them through hostility.

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    $\begingroup$ This. There's plenty of dangerous skilled people out there. Control over them flows from things we abide to every day. Economics, social standing, interpersonal interactions, etc. You don't need to threaten their family, take away their house or monitor them 24/7. These things will bring them up in arms rather than help you. Offer them protection, anonymity (if desired), a visit of their kid and a boatload of money and they might go above and beyond what you ask of them. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 21 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ "If your portal wizard felt like he had nothing too lose, he might as well open a portal to the sun just to spite you." As a point of interest, I read a book once with a portal wizard who did pretty much exactly that, so this point is somewhat well-established (assuming, of course, the existence of portal wizards). $\endgroup$
    – Phil
    Jun 21 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds reasonable but at the same time, this is something based on knowledge and skills. If we are talking super human abilities that are unique to the individual, it wouldn't be a unreasonable to assume that the recreation of that ability becomes very important. So a barrage of very draining, possibly painful, tests would ensue $\endgroup$
    – Squary94
    Jun 22 at 6:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Rekesoft Had he refused, yes he would be in jail because what he did was illegal. That said, there are thousands of CEHs here in the USA who have never been threatened with jail time because they have never broken any laws. As for the actual hack, it was in the late 90s iirc. Military networks were not that hard to hack back then because back then most developers/admins did not really understand how hacking worked. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 22 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Squary94 Recreating a biological ability is still easier with a compliant test subject. It is MUCH easier to ask them to use thier powers while you scan thier brain and body. If you try to force it, again, they may just destroy your whole compound with a portal to the sun, or at the least refuse to cooperate and you cant get any good scans because they keep moving in the MRI machine, or you have to keep them so sedated that they cant use thier powers. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 22 at 16:09
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What is your goal?

It depends on what your goal is. Powerful countries will pay well for your abilities. Tiny countries won’t have resources. Powers with unscrupulous uses will appeal to powerful countries, but be more abused by autocratic ones ( but some folks think the US is autocratic…). Small nations might have less need of your abilities and less ability to defend you, but not needing your powers means that may have little motive to exploit you.

I think the best thing to do is to come out very publicly with your power in a relatively small, neutral country. You might not be able to profit off of unscrupulous uses of your power, but nations or organizations trying to do so will find it hard to make you disappear.

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    $\begingroup$ What neutral countries would you specifically recommend? Switzerland came to mind, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about it's scandals to be confident predicting how ruthless it's government might be when it is advantageous $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake I was trying to keep the answer general to keep to the prohibition about the question being about the real world. The key is publicity and not being a satrapy of some big global power. I know people from Switzerland, and they like it well enough. There are just as many crazy people there per capita as anywhere else. The real key is publicity, because if you are a public figure with citizenship in a legitimate country, you can work anywhere. If [whomever] suddenly says you are volunteering for them indefinitely, their rivals will go to bat for you to deny their enemy an advantage. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 21 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus well, if you are a public figure a powerful enough government can still kidnap you, blow up your car and say you died. Even if people suspect something no one will have enough truth or will to follow up. $\endgroup$
    – TurtleTail
    Jun 21 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ @TurtleTail At that point, any major government on Earth can get anywhere and kill/kidnap anyone if they are willing to be crass about it. Get rich, get a security detail, and do people favors. If you're important enough, the security agencies will watch each other so no one gets you and has an advantage. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 21 at 22:10
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Plausibly you want a first-world country that does not have aspirations or inclinations of global hegemony, gets on well enough with most other countries that they'd be hesitant to infringe on its sovereignty, and, most importantly, other countries don't think will be likely to exploit the power to nefarious ends1, and is large enough that trying to attack to grab the superhuman isn't worth the effort. Also importantly, are members of a defensive alliance where other nations are committed to come to their defense.

So, Norway, Sweden, Finland, or Canada. Maybe Australia or New Zealand.

1 Of course, that's what we want you to think.

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    $\begingroup$ I thought about Sweden or Finland, but they're trying to join NATO now, so maybe not. The OP specifically mentioned Switzerland, and I thought that wasn't too bad. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 21 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ Sweden cooperated with the U.S. to get old of Julian Assange. Switzerland will sell you to the highest bidder - or, rather, the various obscenely rich will try to kidnap you and then sell you to the highest bidder. I don't know about the other countries, but if your abilities are on a scale that is of interest to a superpower, the superpower will just invest enough resources to get you. $\endgroup$
    – toolforger
    Jun 21 at 14:38
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Any small European country (the Netherlands, Belgium, ...).

Europe is an stable region with a lot of influence internationally but at the same time, small regions in Europe won't bother trying to influence the world as there are bigger players. At the same time, no big country in Europe would dare atacking an smaller one in fear of retaliation of the rest of the union, and any ousider country would have to handle the whole European union if had any weird ideas.

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    – Hobbamok
    Jun 21 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ After finding a country to join, have that country negotiate for you to offer your services to other/surrounding/trade-partner countries (most likely, the rest of Europe). As long as a country can access your services, and it doesn't cost them more than the worth it brings, they won't resort to more drastic measures. Moreover, they could keep each other in check, not wanting to lose you to a rivalling country. Of course, a few countries that don't get along with the one you threw your lot in with might still try to get you for themselves... $\endgroup$
    – vinzzz001
    Jun 21 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ A slight modification might be to try and seek employment by something like the European commission - the European block is strong enough to resist pressure by other major players. Has a strong focus on fundamental human rights (meaning you're unlikely to be arbitrarily imprisoned). Plus, I hear the perks of working for the EU bureaucracy are pretty sweet. $\endgroup$
    – lupe
    Jun 21 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ Netherlands? depends on nationality of your superman. An American citizen would probably get recommended from the Dutch embassy. When your superpower refugee is from Tunesia,, entrance will be another story. He'll have to explain why he expects to be persecuted in the place he originates from. There is no free ride in Dutch law, unless you're prosperous, preferably from a NATO country. I expect your superman be safe, but he won't make many friends. He'd be surrounded by professors and researchers for years, who want to know how his superpower works. Of course he'll be payed for his services. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jun 22 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ The netherlands is well known for making special deals with subjects of interest. Thats why its in the top of most tax heavens list. I am guessing a superhuman would count as a subject of interest, without minding the origin. And I agree that you would be under study, but not like in an bunker in the middle of the desert/tundra like USA or Rusia would do $\endgroup$
    – Sxubach
    Jun 23 at 4:00
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Assume that we are going with the most uncharitable plausible prediction of governments, organizations, people, etc based on their past actions.

If we are to assume that, it is likely that no country would treat the character particularly amicably. One of the highest priorities of any government would be to recreate the ability by any means necessary. Even if the well-being of the individual is valued, they would still be subject to hundreds of tests and a eventual dissection once deemed more valuable than the services that could be provided by the subject.

The list of countries that committed unethical human testing is quite long. The most noteworthy of it being Germany before and during World War 2. But because of that fact, I would suggest Germany to be the possibly safest first world developed country to reveal such powers to.

Due to Germany's history, the sensitivity for less than amicable human testing is extremely high as every aspect of the country's unpleasant past is taught thoroughly in schools. Because of that, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that the various tests that would be inevitably done there, aren't too physically taxing and have the well-being of the individual in mind.

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    $\begingroup$ The reasoning is true, to some extent... but then I think it applies more to the German public than the German government, which definitely wants to be on the good side of the USA - to the extent that interests of the German government aren't touched, but that would be of no help to an individual. $\endgroup$
    – toolforger
    Jun 21 at 14:51
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No country is safe

The USA, China, and Russia are all fine conducting violent operations on foreign soil, and they can get you anywhere you go. They'll make wherever you visit unsafe.

The USA is the most safe place.

They are the only country which can semi reliably stop foreign agents from getting you and provide effective security, since they are technologically the most advanced in the world.

Their politicians are also easily bribeable for just a 1-2 hundred thousand each

So, use your powers to acquire 100 million plus, and you can bribe the politicians into being friendly to you.

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