Snowden wants world's help against US charges

2013-11-02 09:20
Edward Snowden (File, AFP)

Edward Snowden (File, AFP)

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Berlin - The US refused to show any leniency to fugitive leaker Edward Snowden on Friday, even as Secretary of State John Kerry conceded that eavesdropping on allies had happened on "automatic pilot" and went too far.

Snowden made his appeal for US clemency in a letter released on Friday by a German lawmaker who met with him in Moscow. In it, the 30-year-old American asked for international help to persuade the US to drop spying charges against him and said he would like to testify before the US Congress about the National Security Agency's surveillance activities.

Snowden also indicated he would be willing to help German officials investigate alleged US spying in Germany, said Hans-Christian Stroebele, a lawmaker with the opposition Green Party and a member of the parliamentary committee that oversees German intelligence.

Stroebele met with Snowden for three hours on Thursday, a week after explosive allegations that the NSA had 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 US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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

"However, speaking the truth is not a crime," Snowden wrote. "I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behaviour."

In Washington, state department spokesperson Jen Psaki would not respond directly to Snowden's appeal, but said the US position "has not changed".

"Despite recent reports or recent pronouncements from Mr Snowden, as we've stated many times before, he's accused of leaking classified information, faces felony charges here in the United States and we believe he should be returned as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process and protections applicable under US law," Psaki said.

Read more on:    edward snowden  |  us  |  germany  |  privacy

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