Efforts to arrange asylum in Ecuador for whistleblower Edward Snowden have not gone as well as hoped. But, after revelations this weekend of NSW spying on Europeans, another option may have opened: putting Snowden in a European witness protection program.
Over the last two weeks, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed evidence of massive NSA spying on Americans that appears to violate the U.S. Constitution. This weekend, through some of those documents, the world learned of massive NSA surveillance of European Union offices and computer networks.
Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that the National Security Agency bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, the latest revelation of alleged U.S. spying that has prompted outrage from EU politicians.Jan Phillip Albrecht, a Green Party representative in the European Parliament, called it a "meltdown of the constitutional state" and "demanded that the EU open proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Germany's federal prosecutor's office is expected to file criminal charges.
The magazine followed up on Sunday with a report that the U.S. agency taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month, much more than any other European peer and similar to the data tapped in China or Iraq.
It also uses data from Internet hubs in south and west Germany that organize data traffic to Syria and Mali.
These new developments remind us that Edward Snowden, like other whistleblowers, is a witness to wrongdoing--in this case, the wrongdoing of grave and international importance. A key witness to that wrongdoing has been threatened by U.S. government officials who revoked Snowden's passport, leaving him stranded in a Moscow airport and complicating his efforts to find asylum.
If the EU or Germany were to initiate an investigation, testimony from Edward Snowden, the key witness, would be critical given that the U.S. government has misled its allies. But, U.S. officials have threatened Snowden and any country that would grant him asylum. The proper move would be for European officials to immediately offer to protection to Snowden as a witnesses to what appears to be an international crime. But, will European governments step up in support of the rule of law, or will they satisfy themselves with posturing on the world stage?