Snowden Looks For Asylum In Switzerland
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 6, 2015
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is looking to leave Russia. The 31 year old former intelligence operative has been trying to negotiate a return to the United States for years and is now stating that he is interested in moving to Switzerland. Snowden previously worked in Geneva, Switzerland for the CIA and said “I would love to return to Switzerland, some of my favorite memories are from Geneva. It’s a wonderful place.”
Snowden made the comments via a video link to an audience in Geneva that had just watched CitizenFour – the academy award winning documentary about the Snowden leaks directed by Laura Poitras which features Snowden’s communications with Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald as well as footage of Snowden in Hong Kong when he was detailing the US mass surveillance programs to journalists and preparing to out himself as the source of the leak.
The US has charged Edward Snowden under the espionage act which makes a whistleblowing defense impossible in court. Snowden says he is willing to return to the US if the US government drops the espionage charge which he believes would then allow him to have a fair trial.
Edward Snowden has made a public appeal for Switzerland to grant him asylum, saying he would like to return to live in Geneva, where he once worked undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency. The fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor, wanted by Washington for leaking details of U.S. mass surveillance programs, spoke from Moscow by video link to a Geneva audience after a viewing of “Citizenfour,” an Oscar-winning documentary about his case.
Snowden, 31, reiterated that he would not return to the United States unless offered a “fair trial.” “I am working very hard with my lawyers to try to get reliable guarantees of a fair trial. Unfortunately the Department of Justice is unwilling to agree in that regard.
Under Swiss law, Snowden would have to physically be in the territory to be granted asylum and given that the US had a plane carrying the president of Bolivia grounded for fear Snowden was aboard it seems unlikely Snowden would be able to travel from Russia to Switzerland without incident – let alone return to Russia if Switzerland denied his asylum request.
The US giving Snowden a fair trial also seems unlikely. If Snowden was able to offer the whistleblower defense and was successful it could lead to a wave of transparency on the illegal behavior of the national security state – something unwelcome in DC.
Snowden may be in Russia for quite some time.