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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.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Russia could take a lesson from its own history and the government could place Snowden in a sealed boxcar to make the trip to Switzerland.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 1:03pm

    The US seems to be past the point of honoring any safe conduct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Sep 2014 @ 5:06pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 9 Sep 2014 @ 1:08pm

    touching snowden now = world wide rits

    if anyone thinks that it will go good for the usa to try and nab him....they are sorely mistaken

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TJ, 9 Sep 2014 @ 1:23pm

    Drive by, or car bomb right out side the air port. "Oh, We didn't have anything to do with his death. Looks like terrorist got him. So unfortunate."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 1:30pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Aaron (profile), 9 Sep 2014 @ 4:53pm

      Re:

      You'd be amazed how petty and vindictive the US government can be in the face of embarrassment or exposed wrongdoing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Sep 2014 @ 4:57pm

      Re:

      What makes you think they'd ever let him see the inside of a court-room? More likely he'd be placed in 'protective custody' and simply 'disappear'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 8:30am

      Re:

      With the charges being brought against him he wouldn't even be allowed to speak at his trial, anyways. Why would they fear bringing him into a courtroom?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trevor, 9 Sep 2014 @ 1:33pm

    Well

    Between the tarmac in Russia and Customs in Switzerland, I'm sure the US could conjure up some language that gives them the right to intercept him before he is "officially" in Switzerland.

    A sort of Democracy Detention, if you will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 1:34pm

    Disappeared....

    That is most likely what will happen if he goes to a country where it is essentially a lackey of the US.

    USA is now the tyrant on the world stage and you cannot trust it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 3:31pm

    Do you think that a country that would risk a nuclear war with Russia over the sun of the Vice President acting as the CEO of a foreign oil company would worry about world public opinion?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dumbfucks, 9 Sep 2014 @ 4:07pm

    Intercepted in flight

    With 100% confidence, I say the USA will intercept his flight and force the plan down into a USA friendly country. They will then say their interpretation of international laws is different and to protect national security they had to do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 4:25pm

      Re: Intercepted in flight

      That's Europe. They could use a train instead of a plane. Much harder to force a train to move to an unexpected country.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Who Cares (profile), 10 Sep 2014 @ 5:12am

        Re: Re: Intercepted in flight

        Much easier to stop and search a train. They don't even have to force it to stop seeing that there is no direct connection. You need to do a stop in either Austria or Poland and get on another train.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jollygreengiant (profile), 10 Sep 2014 @ 1:06pm

      Re: Intercepted in flight

      Why bother with interception? I'm sure they could easily stuff the plane with service people and just fly it straight to gitmo.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 4:21pm

    The US will just claim air space sovereignty or grabbing him right out of the air ,or shoot his plane down and blame the terrorists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 4:22pm

    I agree. It sounds pretty risky with little benefit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    aerilus, 9 Sep 2014 @ 6:59pm

    in his position you have to ask yourself who does the usa fear more Russia or Switzerland. some how I see the U.S. shrugging when the quesiton is asked about the consequences of killing him in Switzerland. russia is probably a different story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2014 @ 7:51pm

    Julian Assange

    Isn't this the same country trying to get their hands on Julian Assange?

    Hey Snowden, don't do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 10 Sep 2014 @ 3:26am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2014 @ 7:24am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jollygreengiant (profile), 10 Sep 2014 @ 1:08pm

    Have they not heard of...

    Skype.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hallvord R. M. Steen, 12 Sep 2014 @ 3:15pm

    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...!?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Norman, 14 Sep 2014 @ 9:34am

    Getting to Switzerland

    Can he get to Switzerland via non-aligned countries or at least countries which are friendlier with Russia than USA? Probably not. Austria is neutral but has no border with Russia and is a member of the EU so would recognise an EU arrest warrant.

    In the boot of a car with Swiss diplomatic number plates?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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