Switzerland Could Offer Snowden Safe Conduct To Testify About Surveillance, But Accepting Seems Risky
from the how-safe-is-'safe'? dept
Things have gone rather quiet on the Snowden front, with the initial torrent of leaks slowing to a trickle. But separately from the documents that he’s provided to journalists, there’s the story of the man, still holed up in Russia, in a rather precarious legal position. That probably explains why he has been reluctant to leave that temporary but apparently safe haven. Now it seems that Switzerland is thinking about offering him safe conduct if he visits to testify about surveillance there. Here’s David Meyer’s summary in Gigaom:
Sunday reports in Le Matin Dimanche and Sonntags Zeitung both cited a document, written by the attorney general last November in order to establish the legal situation around a potential Snowden visit, as saying an extradition request [from the US] would be rejected if the Swiss authorities saw it as political. The document stated that only “higher state obligations” could override this position.
According to Marcel Bosonnet, reportedly Snowden?s legal representative in Switzerland, the position means that “the legal requirements for safe conduct are met,” and Snowden has shown interest in visiting Switzerland. Glenn Greenwald, the journalist and Snowden confidante, has previously recommended that he take asylum there.
There are close parallels with the situation last December, when Brazil too was keen to have Snowden’s help in investigating surveillance of its citizens. Snowden wrote at the time:
Many Brazilian senators … have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens. I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so — going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America! Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.
Even leaving aside concerns about those “higher state obligations” that might override Switzerland’s safe passage, Snowden must also rightly fear the US will try to seize him if he travels from Russia. The risks seem high, and for little direct benefit — this is not, after all, the offer of permanent asylum that he is seeking. All-in-all, giving testimony via a video link seems a far safer option for him.