Reports are emanating from Switzerland that Edward Snowden would be welcomed to testify in a potential criminal inquiry into US spying there, according to the Swiss public prosecutor’s office. If true, it would be the first opportunity to leave Russia without fear of extradition to the United States. However Swiss officials indicated that he would not be granted asylum in Switzerland. But officials there are hesitant to elaborate on these reports as Snowden has not as yet been invited and the issue was ‘purely hypothetical’.
This is not the first time that a country has attempted to use Snowden as a pawn or bargaining chip in seeking leverage with the US and to gain retribution for its nefarious surveillance efforts disclosed in the last year. It was reported in these pages some months ago that German lawmakers were also eager to have Snowden appear before them to give testimony against the United States spy apparatus. In that instance, however, the effort was seen as a means of embarrassing Chancellor Angela Merkel on the eve of her meetings with US president Barack Obama.
The head of the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Republican Michael McCaul reacted negatively to the Swiss reports. He suggested that Snowden should not be allowed to ‘trade our intelligence community’s sources and methods for safe haven in other countries.’ Apparently McCaul missed the Swiss caveat that asylum would probably not be granted him. But according to the reports, Snowden ‘ …could be assured of free movement by the (Swiss) federal prosecutor if he cooperated with a criminal investigation’ into US spy activities he says he learned about while working in Geneva.
It was reported here some weeks ago that Snowden was granted three-year asylum in Russia. This would obviate the need for asylum in Switzerland except that Switzerland, unlike Russia, enjoys more freedoms. The decision on whether to grant Snowden asylum would be made at the highest levels of government and would surely incur the wrath of the US government and pique the interest of the Russians who have recently granted him asylum…
Snowden’s testimony is coveted because he worked in Geneva for the CIA in the US mission in the United Nations between 2007 and 2009 during which time he was involved in the recruitment of a Swiss banker by the CIA. Swiss authorities are eager to learn more about the incident and CIA involvement overall. It has been reported that the CIA deliberately got the banker drunk in their effort to recruit him. The CIA denies such allegations and the testimony of Edward Snowden would go a long way to determining whether or not the incident ever happened.