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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Switzerland Could Offer Snowden Safe Conduct To Testify About Surveillance, But Accepting Seems Risky”

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28 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Exactly so.

They were willing to ground a Presidential plane(and imagine the level of indignation if some country tried that with Air Force One, that would be seen as a ‘declaration of war’ level event to the USG), all because Snowden might have been on it, if they knew for certain he was on a particular plane/train/vehicle, the odds of the USG not making a grab for him, ‘promises’ or not, are all but non-existent.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am probably in the minority here, but I don’t think the U.S. government wants the trouble of bringing Mr. Snowden back to the states and putting him on trial. Nor will the Russian government be willing to let him walk without being compensated for their time and trouble. Got to love Switzerland though, the one place that could be the calm in the storm. Best of everything Ed, our thoughts and prayers are with you. You are the modern day man without a country, and all of that for being honest, and standing up for what is right, instead of what is convenient.

Ninja (profile) says:

By now it is clear that he provided society with a great service (exposed the Govt crooks in quite a few places). Giving permanent asylum is the way right now. Why it isn’t happening? Because the crooks have a big war hammer. And they don’t like Snowden despite the fact that the majority of their citizens want this espionage thing sorted out and reined back into Constitutional grounds.

That’s why nobody has taken this step yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

snowden has a drone missile with his name on it the moment he steps foot into a country that won’t go to war with the US for violating their space with a drone attack.

The United States of American government are terrorists, best if people realize this and stop expecting them to hold themselves to the high standard demand of everyone except them to follow

Hallvord R. M. Steen (user link) says:

Nobel discussions

Snowden is nominated to the Nobel peace price. While the likelyhood of him actually getting it is obviously small, last week had some interesting what-if discussions in Norwegian media. If he received the price, could he safely come to Norway to accept it? Or would we end up in the unprecedented situation that a Nobel laureate could not accept in person for fear of bein arrested by NORWEGIAN police…!?

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