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Snowden calls on France’s Macron to grant him asylum (apnews.com)
153 points by mc32 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

There is no way any European government is strong enough to grant it. Still, important to rub this fact in their face regularly, since many base themselves solely on appearances.

I hope we see more people like Snowden, even if that kind of work comes at huge costs. Overwhelming parts of the press failed in covering this topic too.

Tangentially related: some conversations between a federal judge and federal prosecutors have been leaked to Gleen Greenwald in Brazil. On those conversations, they colluded in cases where the judge gave the prosecutors some leads on how to help make a case about a person, that happened to be an ex-president.

To no surprise, nothing has happened to them so far (it's been about 3 months since the first publication), but the journalist, who is only reporting, has been a target of several attacks, including some homophobic comments from the current president and president's family.

I admire Greenwald. I certainly think the world would be a much better place with more journalists like him.

That said, Greenwald is also a perfect example of why raxxorrax is correct about most journalists not covering issues like the ones you guys have brought up. State level baddies out to stop you is a very serious proposition. They target your friends, your family, your property. Nothing is off limits to these people, they'd probably off your grandmother if they thought it would confer them advantage.

I respect what the guy does, but raxxorrax is right, that stuff comes at a high cost. It's dangerous in the extreme, not just for you, but potentially for your 7 year old niece too. I can understand why reporters choose to cover other issues instead.

It's bizarre that this is even an issue in supposedly free democracies with freedom of speech and rule of law. Is the veneer of civilisation this thin among our officials?

Remember that there is only so much ability for the judiciary branch to make decisions, no shortage of cases, high barriers for action, and a lot of time spent even getting the bureaucracy to act and actually integrate the outcome of decisions.

There is a lot of room for irreversible damage before your grievance is even heard.

The biggest hurdle at this point is, what does any European government have to gain from granting Snowden asylum? He was already granted asylum in Russia, so he's presumably safe at the moment. I'm sure it'd be nicer to live in France than Russia, but that's no reason for France to spend political capital on Snowden.

If a European government was staunchly against government surveillance overreach, maybe they could do it as a statement in support of their values. But why worsen diplomacy with the US (and the Five Eyes nations) when you don't have to? Any country against out-of-control gov't surveillance can simply mind their own affairs in that spirit without getting involved with the Snowden issue.

Somehow this comment triggered the image of Chamberlain waving the paper in front of the crowds in 1938 [0].

I know, my country is far from being Germany at that time, but we do have a very colorful character at the top, exhibiting somewhat similar tendencies.

Think of the chances a "country against out-of-control gov't surveillance" has against the power of a certain three letter agencies that get an order to pressure the said country. Think of [1]

[2] https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/munich-...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Australian_constitutional...

>The biggest hurdle at this point is, what does any European government have to gain from granting Snowden asylum?

Preventing the Russians from extracting information from Snowden that they haven't extracted already.

Why would France care about this? Unless Snowy had secrets about their country, why would anyone care? That's a lot of political capital spent with little return.

Plus, Snowden already blabbed about what the US was doing, why should they think that he hasn't already spilled the beans about other countries?

+1. Grant Snowden asylum and get a 10% tariff for free!

afaik you cant tariff single EU country without enacting the tariffs on the whole EEA, not sure if US would go in that direction...

I believe he could; that's why tariffman was considering taxing french wine. https://www.politico.eu/article/trump-says-tariffs-on-french...

yes, but the response to those tariffs would be similar tariffs from whole of EAA, no?

Unless there's a trade treaty stating this, then the US is not beholden to EU rules. Even if there is a treaty, they generally all give the US the ability to ignore their provisions if it is an issue of national security, and it's under that claim that the current administration has issued tariffs already.

Yeah, what I meant is that EU would respond as single economic block...

How would that work?

Say the US applies a tariff on wine imports from France. What happens next? Does every other EU member in solidarity start self-applying the same tariff to their wines and sending that over to the US tax service?

No, I think the EU - EAA would respond by enacting similarly sized tariffs on US products.

It should be clear by now that reason has left the building.

I very strongly want to believe this is not true. European governments can take their own decisions on issues like this, and can't isolate a single EU country for sanctions of whatever sort.

But most EU countries tend to have a very strong separation between the government and the judiciary, so even if the government supports asylum for Snowden, the judiciary might decide to honor an American extradition request. Although many EU countries don't extradite when there's a risk of death penalty, unfair trial, torture, or anything like that.

Do any of those extradition exceptions apply in this case.

The only one I have ever heard allaged in this case is "unfair trial". But the details of that are: 'US law does not have an exception that covers Snowden's actions".

I happen to agree that the US should have some form of public interest exception, but as a legal arguement it doesn't make sense. No one would argue that a murderer cannot get a fair trial because there is no victim annoyed me exception.

At least four exceptions could be invoked.

1. Unacceptable punishment. This could certainly be invoked, since Snowden faces Espionage Act charges. The current charges don't carry the death penalty, but the possibility of further charges might be raised. But as with Assange, it wouldn't bar extradition; the US simply agrees not to seek the death penalty and then the process continues. Solitary confinement could also arise here.

2. Lack of dual criminality: the Espionage Act is extraordinarily broad, and I don't know whether France's espionage/treason laws are comparable. But since Snowden faces theft and computer charges which have clear dual criminality, I don't know how this would proceed. The US might have to agree not to pursue Espionage Act charges, but you'd have to ask a lawyer.

3. Unfair trial: this is subjective, and not covered by the US/France extradition treaty. The European Court of Human Rights has stated that a merely unfair trial is not a bar, and requires a "flagrant violation of human rights", but France could potentially apply a narrower standard. And while unfair trial isn't a basis to reject a US extradition, it is a basis to grant asylum, which would take legal precedence.

There is a good candidate here: the Espionage Act bars any question of whether the information was justifiably secret, bars defendants from introducing key evidence in their defense, bars the defendant from discussing their intent, and doesn't require proof of real or even potential harm to convict. France could argue that Snowden faces conviction over harm which was both unintended and impossible in the course of exposing an illegal action.

Of course, this would again be moot if the Espionage Act charges were dropped (although not if asylum was granted first). And it could be tough both legally and politically depending on how France's most secretive prosecutions are structured.

4. Politically motivated charges: this both grounds for asylum and a treaty bar to US/French extradition. It's also incredibly subjective, so it certainly could be invoked by a French court.

Snowden's actions don't fall under any of the explicit categories for which political extraditions are required (those are things like attacking diplomats). The US could argue they fall under the "serious harm" clause, but that's neither clearcut not an actual requirement to extradite. (It merely must be taken into account by the surrendering nation.)

France isn't terribly likely to claim this, since the programs and agencies Snowden exposed generally align with French intelligence interests. But a court probably wouldn't have much trouble justifying the finding: Snowden exposed embarrassing actions like spying on foreign heads of state (including France!), US judges have said some of the exposed programs are probably unconstitutional, and he contradicted official testimony to Congress. Combined with a charge that explicitly excludes defenses of public interest, government error, or harmless action, it would be easy to argue the US is using the trial to prevent scrutiny of political misbehavior.

None of that is going to happen, obviously, and I'm not taking a stance here on whether it would be correct. But there's at least one extradition bar which could be easily invoked and justified if someone decided to do so.

This whole discussion has made me wonder how someone like Roman Polanski has managed to evade extradition for so long. That sounds like it should have been a much more cleat cut case for extradition. There was an extradition case in Switzerland at some point. Would Snowden be safer there?

That's a good question, since it's clearly not a political case. Some quick reading says there are two factors, neither likely to apply to Snowden.

France has refused to extradite Polanski because he's a French/Polish citizen, and neither country is obligated to extradite citizens. (If the refusal is purely citizenship-based, they're required to refer the person for domestic prosecution on request. It's not clear to me whether this applied or happened.)

Poland and Switzerland were both open to extradition (Poland declined to apply the citizenship exemption), but courts in both countries refused over issues with Polanski's trial and prospective sentence.

Polanski's case did start in the US. His attorney arranged an extremely lenient plea bargain of 5/6 charges dropped and 90 days psychiatric evaluation, which he accepted when he was released from prison after 42 days. After that, things get very messy. The exact terms of the bargain were unclear (90 days or time served). The original judge has been accused of misconduct. Subsequent judges have made legally-worrying comments like threatening to delay sentencing to increase time in jail.

Switzerland rejected Polanski's extradition over ambiguity between "90 days" or "time served", and the USA's failure to provide clarifying records. The rationale was that the judge had potentially committed to time served, and extradition isn't available after a punishment (probation doesn't count) is completed.

Poland rejected extradition over the behavior from the original judge and prosecutors, plus the behavior of subsequent judges and alleged destruction of records.

"Unfair trial" is a possible defense for Snowden, and Switzerland would probably be one of the safer places in Europe for him. But a speculative claim of an unfair trial is quite a bit bolder than the Polanski decisions, which hinged on claims of actual misconduct during a trial.

Part of it is because Polanski has French citizenship and France does not extradite its own citizens.

Thanks for the breakdown. Snowden faces the possibility of lifelong solitary confinement in the US from what I understand, which is a fate worse than death in my opinion.

Strange idea, considering what France and other EU countries did not so long ago to Ecuadorian diplomatic plane suspected to carry Snowden. Also a big problem for Snowden, because even if granted asylum it's highly unlikely that US would let him get to France. Lots of NATO countries in between to fly over.


That just means they'd have to charter a special flight that used only Russian, International, and French airspace.

Would the land route be safer?

I doubt Russia will let him leave.

Hasn't Russia already granted him asylum?

There are a number of reasons that he might prefer not to live in Russia. An example obvious political reason: Russia has a lot of the same issues he criticizes in the US. He'd probably like to safely criticize Russia for these things as well. An example obvious personal reason: France is a much nicer country to live in (due to the weather if nothing else).

He would be safer though in Russia. It is far easier for the CIA to kidnap him illegally out of France, if they fail to extradite him legally. France might protest such an event a lot but it will unlikely lead to a military confrontation. The US would never likely do this in Russia.

but it will unlikely lead to a military confrontation

You're saying if the CIA does so in Russia, it would lead to military confrontation?

Ed Snowden is a card to play for Russia but a quite small one.

Actually, the biggest risk he is facing is the same as Julian Assange. At some point, a change in policy in Russia (eg getting something back in return from the US) can lead to him being extradited to the U.S.

As for the U.S, I think it's not a big deal as well. His damage is done. All the incentive the U.S has in this case is to make example of him.

There is little political incentive for politicians to follow. Maybe some PR for the president who manages to get him back, but aside from that, Ed Snowden is not a big incentive for anyone at this point. No way anyone is going to war for him.

Russia doesn't give a shit about Snowden, of course, but Putin cares a lot about his own image of power. Such event would be a huge slap in the face for both the country and him personally - it would make Russia look weak and that's of great importance for their internal politics and Putin's ability to keep the public support and stay in power. So it wouldn't go unpunished, you can bet on that, he would be forced to demonstrate the power somehow... not for Snowden, but because of his voters...

Again, the biggest problem for Ed Snowden is when Putin decides to hand over Snowden.

Snowden is a card with an expiration date. Sooner or later Russia will try to use it to get something back.

Putin is free not to tell anything to his voters, as always. See Smolenkov, a high profile spy who safely left Russia. Voters don’t care much.

Someone voluntarily leaving (even illegally) is not in the same class as public figures being kidnapped off the street. One is an individual matter and the other makes everyone feel unsafe.

If they really wanted to they could. They exfiltrated a spy[1] who was reluctant to leave in 2017.


Exfiltration is different than kidnapping. Presumably the alleged spy wanted to leave Russia, in order to avoid extensive torture. Snowden wouldn't leave Russia just to receive extensive torture.

But yet somehow this involuntary thing would be possible in France, yet apparently unlikely in Russia? It’s not as though once in France he’d realize, “Yeah, I don’t mind, let them kidnap me, I’ll make it easier on them here in France.”

Unfortunately there is a list of European nations who were either complicit in CIA kidnappings (forced renditions) or where the criminal persecution for such events was ineffective lacking the political will to offend the US. Take this case for example


In most locations, one doesn't have a choice when faced with armed police. In France, those police who are on USA payroll don't have to be subtle about that employment. In Russia, they really do have to be subtle.

What would be the consequences of the US illegally deporting Snowden from France like that? What would be printed in the newspapers?

"Snowden goes missing while hiking in Alps; assumed to be buried in glacier crevasse"

Presuming he does something stupid like that, and this cover would ruin US goal of making an example.

He wouldn't have to choose to go hiking, or even venture within 100 km of the mountains, in order for that headline to be reported.

USA has plenty of whistleblower examples anyway. We've tortured Chelsea Manning for years. Others who have been punished, to varying degrees, include Bill Binney, Reality Winner, and John Kiriakou. Presumably there are others of whom we're not aware. These people have done really small things to rouse the ire of the TLAs. How could they punish Snowden in a proportional fashion, anyway?

Oh there would be terrible outrage. And then people would get on with their lives. Whistleblowers get thrown under the nearest bus, it is a law of nature.

"CIA apprehends former NSA contractor charged with espionage" would be a factually correct headline.

"I would prefer to live there" isn't a valid reason to grant asylum.

What is or is not a valid reason to grant asylum is entirely up to the host country. Though, granted, "I'd prefer to live there" probably isn't going to impress very many of those decision makers.

Things I wouldn't do if I valued my life: criticize Russia or Vladimir Putin.

I was listening to a recent interview with Snowden (on NPR I believe) where he did that quite a lot.

If he wasn't a coward he could choose to live in the United States.

Yes. And you can't shop around asylum as many of these comments imply. A country is going to ask, "show me the immediate danger you're in."

You can "shop around" as much as you want. Whether to grant asylum however, is entirely up to the host country.

Russia apparently granted him temporary asylum that they renew every few years.

They have. I'd rather live in France than Russia, though. Rule of Law, better climate, more familiar culture, theoretically friendlier government, etc.

To be fair Russia is huge. The climate varies pretty wildly depending on where in Russia you are.

That's not the way asylum works, though.

In the sense that beggars can't be choosers about where they live? Of course. But no doubt that's why he wants asylum in France extended to him.

Also the optics of a campaigner for open and accountable government living under the protection of Vladimir Putin could be better.

> better climate

Would asylum allow access to overseas possessions? France has some nice tropical locations.


IDK, of all the choices France feels like an odd one. Is there some particular law(s) that would favor France over other countries?

What about Cuba? It's certainly not Russia, and it's unlikely the USA and Cuba will kiss and make up any time soon.

Or is this a PR stunt of sorts to sell more books? Note: I'm in favor of ES selling more books as I wish more people were aware of this issue.


Citation please?


We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the site guidelines.


have you seen jon oliver trying to interview him in moscow [0]? i think it's naive to believe his actions aren't strictly controlled and approved by russia's intelligence agency.

[0] https://youtu.be/XEVlyP4_11M?t=837

What is Snowden's problem with Russia? Its a beautiful country, the people there revere him as a hero, he's employed because of his talents as an engineer. The women there are beautiful, the common person is sincere and generous. Maybe he is constantly being harassed by Russian intelligence?

Why would Trump administration want to prosecute Snowden?

Besides the fact that he committed treason?

Snowden leaks could have hurt Obama administration, but these leaks did NOT hurt Trump administration.

He should appeal to Trump. Pretty sure Trump would enjoy trolling the Left forever about it.

mmm yeah... he troll'd the left about assange for a minute, too. and now assange is drugged out of his mind & incommunicado.

i'd not expect much from the US prez in terms of protection for weaklings like Assange & Snowden. better if they had some power to offer in trade, but who has that type of power?

I'm sure on a personal level he would, but Snowden's legal status is a glaring reminder that the swamp has definitely not been drained, and I can't imagine Trump would appreciate a public reminder of that in an election year.

"He should appeal to Trump. Pretty sure Trump would enjoy trolling the Left forever about it."

That's an interesting notion. Perhaps have Trump pardon him. Never gonna happen given who actually runs government.

There are a ton of people who are pro-Snowden who are anti-Trump so I do like the idea of watching the uproar. Honestly, I think that kind of paradox is good for peoples' minds.

They just won't discuss it. Think of how little reporting this received a few weeks ago: https://apnews.com/cdda0a1c21124c4c8a2d68790d99bdab

It’s not difficult to imagine that criminals wised up from the revelations of Edward Snowden. It’s not difficult to imagine that such data would be highly classified despite the programs’ existence being disclosed by Edward Snowden. If that’s the case, then a secret military trial is justified.

I posted my opinion that taking him out is an option. It was flagged and then removed entirely.

Hacker News should reconsider allowing me, an American citizen, to suggest that an international fugitive who admits to committing treason and refuses to come home should be taken out.

Snowden’s actions are an ongoing act of war against the United States. It is lawful to consider taking him out, in my opinion. I should be allowed a voice to express that view on hn, without concern about censorship, at least in this case.

This comment shouldn’t be censored. Please don’t flag it, moderators. Thanks.

Edit: if you’re going to downvote, at least please provide a brief explanation.

It is unpopular to express opinions that violate the tenets instilled in every American in their civics / social sciences classes in high school.

Snowden had the same opinion though: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/06/exclusive-in-200...

I’m of the opinion though that Manning and Snowden leaked under orders from the CIA. Manning wanted assistance from Assange to a degree that would remove any protections Assange would have as a third party, and it is unlikely for Snowden to have obtained such a wide range of documents (allegedly scraping Intellipedia for backup) unless his superiors were totally unobservant.

To criticize the actions of either Manning or Snowden would be to criticize the US government.

Indeed, one can interpret the posts of “Q” to support this theory. Going in that direction of that conspiracy theory, however, it appears that the CIA was cleaned out and taken back (or is/was in the process of being taken back) with the appointment of Haspel.

Of note is an apparent exchange between “Q” and @snowden on Twitter, where it appeared that “Q” was able to compel @snowden to share a photo of someone from the Middle East while under duress or on the move. The evidence to support this is the garbled tweets from @snowden in response to “Q”’s demand, suggesting that Snowden really was on the move and being hunted, and under pressure to disclose the info.

Also of note was “Q” saying to @snowden (at the time) “we can take you anytime” which certainly was ambiguous regarding whether it meant kill, or capture. (“Take you out” would have left zero ambiguity). “Take you anytime” implied the possibility of a kill, at the least.

Qanon is just a parody of widespread political sentiments. Obviously no one with a Q clearance (which apparently includes Podesta) is a decent person.

The actions of various people acting as a result of the Qanon theories is potentially the result of other craziness that no one would acknowledge. It isn’t unthinkable that the person who shot the head of the Gambino crime family was in some fashion harmed by the Gambinos.

I hope the FBI agents doing full time surveillance on the Gambino head spat out their coffee when they saw what happened.

Edit: If Snowden returns to the US, I wonder if he would become another Lee Harvey Oswald. He did defect twice.

Its unclear if QAnon is (was — 8chan is gone) someone close to Trump. It wasn’t necessarily a parody.

Indeed, Anthony Comello, the man who murdered Gambino boss Frank Cali allegedly believed that he had “protection” from Trump. However, this could just be a creative defense derived after-the-fact, supported by Mr. Comello’s interest in the QAnon movement.

The murder was apparently related to some dispute about dating Cali’s daughter.

“I know”

“I understand”

“I’m getting ice cream.”

Knowledge is only tested by hypotheses that result in expected results.

If you expect chaos and instead get an unexpected focused result, there could be something to learn about the nature of the mind’s ability to prevent brain freeze simply by subconsciously regulating ice cream intake velocity. The observation of enigmatic coincidences is irrelevant fodder, unless there’s sufficient reason to believe otherwise.

Talking about "treason" (i.e. execution) for exposing lawbreaking by spooks is enough.

Thanks for replying. His actions certainly seem treasonous. He committed a serious attack against the NSA, the primary SIGINT conduit of the USIC and arguably the crown jewel.

No. The NSA committed a serious attack on the American public.

No spooks were harmed by Snowden's actions. None of the information illegally collected was destroyed. None of the equipment illegally collecting information was damaged. Even the spooks on the take, using illegally obtained information for criminal extortion, were not exposed.

> No. The NSA committed a serious attack on the American public.

To which Snowden's action was a direct response.

(And I am of the opinion that any post which suggests it is OK to murder another individual should be flagged because such is not lawful.)

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