Switzerland mulls offering protection to Edward Snowden

(By Deutsche Welle ) Whistleblower Edward Snowden has maintained that he would prefer to find asylum in a democratic country. Could Switzerland secure his passage out of Russian exile?

Swiss authorities have reportedly concluded that they could protect former NSA contractor Edward Snowden from extradition to the United States, should he testify before a parliamentary commission on the National Security Agency’s espionage activities.

Switzerland’s weekly “SonntagsZeitung” gained access to a document leaked from the country’s attorney general, entitled “What rules would apply if Snowden was brought to Switzerland and the USA submitted an application for extradition?”

In the three-page document, the attorney general reportedly concluded that the whistleblower’s safety could be guaranteed inside Switzerland. The only obstacle would be “higher priority state obligations,” in other words, potential damage to Swiss-US relations.

In particular, the Swiss parliament could grant Snowden protection in the context of a hearing on the NSA, if the conclusion is made that his actions had “a primarily political character.”

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Calls for Snowden to testify in Germany met with skepticism

(By Deutsche Welle) Members of Chancellor Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats have expressed openness to receiving testimony from Edward Snowden. But they are skeptical that the US whistle-blower can travel to Germany.

The suggestion by Greens parliamentarian Hans-Christian Ströbele that Snowden could testify before the German Bundestag has received a mixed response in Berlin, with members of the governing Christian Democrats (CDU) saying that a US application for the whistle-blower’s extradition would preclude him from leaving Russia.

CDU spokesman for domestic affairs Hans-Peter Uhl told the daily Berliner Zeitung on Saturday that a German delegation could possibly travel to Moscow to question Snowden about the surveillance operations of the US National Security Agency (NSA).

“A trip by Snowden to Germany would be problematic because it is questionable whether or not he would receive asylum here,” Uhl said. “If he didn’t receive asylum, then there’s the extradition application from the Americans.”

Ströbele’s Moscow trip criticized

On Thursday, Ströbele traveled to Moscow, where he met with Snowden. The former NSA contractor said that he was prepared to testify before the German parliament on the condition that his security could be guaranteed. Ströbele returned to Germany with a letter from Snowden, in which the whistle-blower said he hoped “to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact” as it regards US surveillance programs.

Meanwhile, senior CDU parliamentarian Michael Grosse-Brömer criticized Ströbele’s trip, saying that the Green had done little more than act as a mailman. Grosse-Brömer went on to say that there “was currently no reason to make a decision about possible stay by Snowden in Germany,” adding that he doubted the whistle-blower would make the trip because of the US extradition application.

Call for Merkel to confront Obama

Revelations about NSA surveillance operations have strained US-German relations in recent weeks. In October, the boulevard publication Bild and leading newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA had hacked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, sparking widespread shock and outrage. Over the summer, there were reports – based on Snowden’s leaks – that the NSA had also collected the metadata of millions of German citizens.

German representatives are currently negotiating a “no-spy agreement” to end the NSA surveillance operations in the country. However, Greens chief Simone Peter called on Merkel to confront US President Barack Obama in person over the issue.

“A no-spy agreement isn’t enough,” Peter told a German regional newspaper on Saturday. “Angela Merkel needs to immediately meet with President Obama in Washington, and put US snooping in its place.”

slk/mkg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)