Edward Snowden Asks Switzerland For Asylum

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has publicly asked Switzerland to grant him political asylum.

The most prolific leaker in U.S. intelligence history told a crowd in Geneva from video link in Moscow Thursday night that he would love to return to Geneva, where he formerly worked undercover for the CIA before rejoining the NSA.

“I would love to return to Switzerland, some of my favorite memories are from Geneva. It’s a wonderful place,” Snowden told the audience at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights after a viewing of “Citizenfour” — the Oscar-winning documentary about his unprecedented leak of classified intelligence documents to journalists Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman and Glenn Greenwald.

“I do think Switzerland would be a sort of great political option because it has a history of neutrality,” Snowden said according to Reuters.

Snowden said he has applied for asylum to 21 countries, the majority in central and Western Europe, but that political interference by the Obama administration has so far kept him from being accepted anywhere outside of Russia, where his political asylum was renewed last year.

The former NSA contractor repeated his chief desire was to return to the U.S., but reiterated he would not do so until the U.S. government guaranteed him a fair trial. According to current U.S. law grounded in the Espionage Act, under which Snowden was charged, the leaker would not be allowed to make a public disclosure defense — essentially, a defense based on the premise that the public has the right to know the level to which they are being surveilled by the state.

So far, all the U.S. government will guarantee is that they will not execute Snowden, “which is not the same as a fair trial,” the whistleblower said.

“Edward Snowden is without a doubt a whistleblower and someone who should be protected,” Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali said in defense of Snowden’s asylum request during a debate following the film. “He should not even be tried, because what he did was to expose government over-reach and things that should not be happening.”

According to Swiss law, an applicant for political asylum must be in Swiss territory for the government to consider the request.

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