Greenwald advocates Swiss asylum for whistleblower Snowden

Glenn Greenwald and fellow journalists revealed the contents of Snowden's documents in June 2013 Keystone

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke revelations about spying by the United States government, says Switzerland should offer whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum and wouldn’t be punished for doing so. But he adds the Swiss are a partner in certain US spy operations.

This content was published on May 24, 2014 - 11:47 and agencies

“A stable, well-off and important country like Switzerland can take Snowden in,” Greenwald said in an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger and Der Bund newspapers, adding it was the responsibility of any country benefiting from  Snowden’s revelations to offer him asylum.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor who fled the United States in June 2013 after leaking millions of documents revealing widespread domestic and international spy operations to Greenwald at The Guardian newspaper and to the Washington Post, is now living under asylum protection in Moscow. But his asylum permit runs out in August.

Although he believes Switzerland has an obligation to offer to take Snowden in, Greenwald said the NSA documents show the Swiss are second-tier partners for the US in spy operations, after English-speaking countries like Britain, Canada and Australia. Defense Minister Ueli Maurer said last year the Swiss had no role in the NSA’s operations.

“The US sees the Swiss as a monitoring partner,” Greenwald said, "for example, with regard to specific countries or in the supervision of certain regions or individual groups".

Greenwald also said Snowden’s documents show the NSA is spying on the Swiss banking sector, but that “those documents need to be examined more closely”.

Parliament has indicated it wants to meet with Snowden to find out more about the implications of his revelations for Switzerland and to talk about asylum  possibilities. But Greenwald says Snowden should make sure the deal isn’t one-sided.

“The question is whether Snowden should help countries that don’t want to help him,” he said. “If I were in his situation, I would think twice about whether I would talk to representatives from countries that wanted to take away my rights and help land me in prison.”

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