Snowden seeks the world's help against U.S. charges

Former NSA systems analyst says he would like to testify before Congress, but not until U.S. drops espionage charge
Associated Press
Nov 1, 2013


Edward Snowden is calling for international help to persuade the U.S. to drop its espionage charges against him, according to a letter a German lawmaker released Friday after he met the American in Moscow.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, has conceded that some of the NSA's spying has reached too far and will be stopped.

Snowden said he would like to testify before the U.S. Congress about National Security Agency surveillance and may be willing to help German officials investigate alleged U.S. spying in Germany, Hans-Christian Stroebele, a lawmaker with Germany's opposition Greens, told a news conference.

But Snowden indicated in the letter that neither would happen unless the U.S. dropped its espionage charges — a policy shift the Obama administration has given no indication it would make.

Stroebele's meeting with Snowden on Thursday took place a week after explosive allegations from the Der Spiegel news magazine that the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone prompted her to complain personally to President Barack Obama. The alleged spying has produced the most serious diplomatic tensions between the two allies since Germany opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Germany's top security official said he would like to arrange for German authorities to talk to Snowden about those allegations and other U.S. surveillance operations that have enraged Europeans.

Snowden has said he no longer has the NSA materials but his knowledge of U.S. spying efforts could be seen as invaluable by other nations.

"He pointed out that he was active in the U.S. secret services, the NSA and CIA, not just as an administrator or something like that who had access to computers, but also ... participated in operations," Stroebele said of Snowden.

"He noted that he knows a lot about the inner structure ... that means he can, above all, interpret and explain all the documents... He could explain authentically only as an NSA man could. That means he is a significant witness for Germany, too."

In his one-page typed letter, written in English and bearing signatures that Stroebele said were his own and Snowden's, Snowden complained that the U.S. government "continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense."

"I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behavior," Snowden wrote.

But he indicated he wouldn't talk in Germany or elsewhere until "the situation is resolved."

Stroebele said Snowden appeared healthy and cheerful during their meeting at an undisclosed location in Moscow. The German television network ARD, which accompanied Stroebele, said the Germans were taken to the meeting by unidentified "security officials" under "strict secrecy."

Snowden "said that he would like most to lay the facts on the table before a committee of the U.S. Congress and explain them," Stroebele said. The lawmaker, a prominent critic of the NSA's alleged activities, said the 30-year-old "did not present himself to me as anti-American or anything like that — quite the contrary."

Merkel this week sent German officials to Washington for talks on the spying issue. Germany's parliament also is expected to discuss the NSA's alleged spying on Nov. 18.

Stroebele said he had hoped to meet Snowden in July but contacts with Snowden's side broke off. Stroebele said the contact was re-established at the end of last week — about the time the Merkel story broke.

In a video link to an open government conference in London, Kerry said Thursday that because of modern technology, some of the NSA activities have been happening on "automatic pilot" without the knowledge of Obama administration officials.

Kerry said ongoing reviews of U.S. surveillance will ensure that technology is not being abused.

"The president and I have learned of some things that have been happening, in many ways on an automatic pilot, because the technology is there," Kerry said. "In some cases, some of these actions have reached too far and we are going to try to make sure it doesn't happen in the future."

Snowden was granted a one-year asylum in Russia in August after being stuck at a Moscow airport for more than a month following his arrival from Hong Kong. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden got asylum on condition that he wouldn't harm U.S. interests.

Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told the Interfax news agency that Snowden would not violate the terms of his asylum if he talked to the Germans in Russia about the wiretapping case. But Stroebele said Snowden had "significant reservations" about that idea, fearing that speaking to foreign officials on Russian soil could cause him problems.

If Snowden leaves Russia, he would lose his asylum status, Kucherena confirmed.

Germany, along with many other nations, rejected an asylum request from Snowden earlier this year. In July, the Germans received a U.S. request for Snowden's arrest, if he was found in the country.

Snowden's exact whereabouts in Russia and his activities there have been a mystery.

There has been wide speculation that Snowden is under the control of Russia's security services, but there has been no confirmation.

Stroebele was tightlipped about where he met Snowden. The German politician said he had no contact with the German Embassy in Moscow nor with Russian authorities other than a passport control officer — although he did not explain who the security officials mentioned by German television were.

Snowden's lawyer says his client has accepted a technical-support job with a major Russian website but refused to name it.

"He enjoys living in Russia. ... We have opportunities to visit cultural events. We have opportunities to show him our places of interest," Kucherena said Friday.

He also said Snowden is studying Russian and has developed some competency in it.

The Russian news site Life News on Thursday published a photo showing Snowden apparently on a boat in the Moscow River with the Christ the Savior Cathedral in the background. It said the photo was from September.

"It's him," Kucherena told the AP on Friday.


The Big Dog's back

To bad and T S.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

"...Snowden complained that the U.S. government 'continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense.'"

= = = = = = = = = =

No criticism of the ACA allowed:

Putting talk radio on trial at the FCC:

Purge of military commanders with little to no explanation:

Let's violate the Constitution some more by giving the President (not just this one but any future one) control over spending that is Congress's responsibility:

= = = = = = = = = =

Take any of the above with a grain of salt. The Blaze is a very conservative site. But just look around and see what is happening. The power grabs, the loss of personal liberty, the promise of other peoples' money be it your neighbors' or a distant debtors'. For what?

As conservative as I may tend to be, I fully support this quote:

"I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you're not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration." - Hillary Clinton, 2003

You won't have my vote if you run, Mrs. Clinton (let's leave dynasties for Imperial and Feudal systems - same goes for you Jeb Bush!), but I support the above sentiment 100% just as I agreed with then-Senator Obama saying something about the debt ceiling and being unpatriotic. But to even continue to agree with some who are most likely on the liberal side even regarding that quote:

"That's all worth noting. But what's also worth noting -- and yes, this is all done with the benefit of hindsight -- is that these speeches actually did some harm, and those of us who paid them no mind, believing them to be just part of the silly pageantry of debt ceiling increases, are complicit in causing that harm.

When you permit stupid ideas to go out into the world without putting a check on them, one of the natural consequences is that stupidity gets legitimized. Obama's in the rather unique position to rue the day he indulged himself in this tradition, and the rest of us are in the unique position to know better the next time anyone else tries to participate in it. It's all fun and games until you shoot your own eye out."

I don't care what your political persuasion is - stop permitting pleasantries, lies, and unreasonable/utopian promises.

Licorice Schtick

"Lies, and unreasonable/utopian promises" will persist as long as there are gullible voters - forever. But pleasantries?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Specifically what I meant was (and it it is somewhat redundant with the utopian promises) those who seek bipartisanship as an end itself. Let's say that Republicans want to pass a bill and they find one Democrat who for whatever reason goes along with it. Suddenly attempts at still making a bad bill seem good with cries of "IT'S BIPARTISAN!!!" cry out across the land. It being bipartisan is lipstick on the pig. Just because something is bipartisasn doesn't automatically means it is good, necessary, relevant, or helpful.

Something similar to that is when someone like the President says phrases like "our friends across the aisle." He's not the first to do it but it is still a razor blade in an apple. Especially because it is only used when he is appeased. Because not more than hours or a day or two after such a pleasant thing is hollowly said then it goes back to Republicans being arsonists, terrorists, etc. Well, which is it? Are they your friends across the aisle or murderous felons?

Does consistency matter or are we to be ruled by whoever makes the cleverest sound bite zinger/platitude? Are we to be browbeaten by incumbents who just presume they should win because being a Senator is all they've done their whole life? Where are voices of dissent or questions of practicality on the left?

I thought that perhaps the Occupy movements would be embraced by Democrats as a kind of grassroots answer to the Tea Party trying to clear out the underbrush and deadwood of the Republicans but aside from a few pleasant, distant parallels there was no such action.

As one last thought, too, classifying human beings is just as much a false pleasantry. That one above all else gets under my skin the most. What a waste of oxygen it is for someone to say "middle class" in reference to anything from "tax reform" to "job programs" or even just generic support. It automatically divides people in your own mind let alone the minds of all those who are trying to figure out where they are influenced by a policy. It is divisive, means different things to different people, and ultimately demeans the population with this honeyed phrase.


A team of U.S. Navy SEALs ought to visit him.

Licorice Schtick

Sometimes it takes history to show you the difference between a traitor a patriot.


Snowden is a traitor and also is dumb.
Countries spy on each other all the time.

Even bitching Germany got caught spying :

Stop It

Bring him home and hand him a medal. Turn the what is into what was.

The Answer Person

You reap what you sow. You get NOTHING!!!


There are so many facets to this story that it's hard to place definitive blame anywhere, except one: The US Government.

The problem with Edward Snowden isn't as simple as it might sound. There's little question that he's "harmed US interests," as is obvious from the reactions of our allies. But is that simple fall-out from the heroic acts of a whistle blower? Is it treason? Or is it something in between?

Given the NSA's dramatic overstepping of its bounds, I'm inclined to believe Mr. Snowden's acts to be both patriotic and courageous. I'd have PREFERRED it if he'd quietly gone to Congress and reported the issues, and that Congress would have taken immediate corrective actions. But let's face it: In today's world where so many politicians are more intersted in themselves and their power than anything else, I don't know that anything would ever have come of it.

Snowden would probably have quietly disappeared, our allies would have gone blithely forward thinking they were equal and trusted partners, and the NSA (and who knows what other agencies) would almost certainly have expanded its reach still further.

It would actually be funny watching people like Obama and Kerry scramble to cover up their complicity in all of this if it weren't so serious. As a whole, the government has violated the Constitution as well as the trust of allies. The "war on terror" is important, of course. But if this is the degree to which the government will sink in that fight, well, we've already lost what we were supposedly fighting to keep.


Snowden probably knew that he would have been killed if he tried to notify Congress.

Journalists who expose corruption within the government are murdered and their death is ruled a suicide.

Here is one example of the CIA bringing drugs into the country as uncovered by Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter.

"Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who wrote a series of stories linking the CIA to crack cocaine trafficking in Los Angeles, is dead at age 49."


Yes, "killed" is what I meant when I said "quietly disappeared."

I still would PREFER that whistleblowers could be protected as they follow a more rational course of exposure to the powers that be if not to the public at large. But what I PREFER has about the same impact as suggesting something isn't the way it OUGHT to be, and that is exactly NONE.

I'm not 100% convinced that Snowden was either right OR wrong in what he did. But whatever his motives, I don't know that he could have done it any other way. And that, in its own way, is pretty shameful, too.

Darwin's choice

Checkout the incredible number of "deaths" in the Clintons past....


"I'd have PREFERRED it if he'd quietly gone to Congress and reported the issues, and that Congress would have taken immediate corrective actions."

Other whistle blowers at state and national levels have tried similar things. There is a reason why Mark Felt went anonymous and exposed Nixon. Whistle blowers are silenced in many ways. They are subjected to intimidation tactics, sent to prison or they are murdered and their death ruled a suicide or their bodies are never found.


I'm shocked that all you so called "patriots" think what this guy did was okay. This was his plan when he applied for the job. You may not like the way government operates but you expect government to keep you safe among other things. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Welcome to the 21st century!


You're right.
These dumb people who fancy themselves as "patriots", are "idiots".

You don't burn down the house you live in unless your mind is manipulated by Fox News or jackasses like Rush Limbaugh.

The Big Dog's back

Exactly deertracker! But what do you expect from treasonous right wingnut teabaggers on here.

Darwin's choice



So you don't support whistleblowers, then?

Not the undercover PETA operatives who've filmed horrific animal abuse (planned before they applied for jobs in the industry)?

Not the undercover lawyers/legal employees who gather evidence of nasty environmental abuses (planned before they applied for jobs)?

This is no different. There's a good argument against the public nature of the release of information. At the same time, now that we the public KNOW what was going on, there's a pretty good argument in favor of the whistleblowing as well. It's not a question or "liking" or "not liking" what the NSA and other federal agencies are doing. It's a question of the law, and they've apparently been breaking it.

Oh, and for your own personal reference: I expect the government to take national security seriously (which includes securing the country's borders). I do not expect, and only a complete idiot would expect, 100% safety because it's not possible. And since it's not possible under ANY circumstances, I'm sure as heck not willing to trade off civil liberties to make the futile attempt!


I’m thinking the punishment for treason should still be hanging at high noon or at the least a firing squad!

Darwin's choice

Obama's getting close....careful....

American whistleblowers
Some American whistleblowers are listed here with short comments about what they exposed.
EDIT: Some references to prior NSA whistleblowers in prior years are listed here.
"In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to other Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations. A final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony."
"American Whistleblowers in Prison and in Exile"

The Big Dog's back

Dude, this guy is not a whistle blower. Pay attention.


Centauri, to avoid any future confusion, I suggest you adhere to the following definitions from Big Dog's book of "what's what:"

1. Whistleblower = anybody who discovers and subsequently publicizes anything done by a conservative politician or a large corporation that may or may not be illegal; and

2. Traitor/Racist/Both = anybody who discovers and subsequently publicizes even the most criminal of acts if that act is remotely connected to the Obama administration (unless it's possible to blame Bush, in which case refer to Definition #1).

Capt. Ford

you'll not stand out in any way
you're a rumor, you don't exist,
you're no longer part of the system
you're above the system
over it, beyond it.
we are the NSA.


You watched "Men in Black" last night.