On October 31, Edward Snowden met with German Green party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele over reports that US spied on the German government. Source: AFP / East News
Former CIA technical analyst Edward Snowden whom Russia has granted political asylum on Thursday gave consent to help the German authorities in investigating the operations of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on the territory of Germany, including the snooping of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.
All in all, the NSA bugged the telephone calls of 35 world leaders and evidence of it can be found in the documents, which Snowden supplied to The Guardian before arrival in Russia.
Analysts recall the remark President Vladimir Putin made prior to giving Snowden the temporary political asylum: “We warned Mr. Snowden that any activity on his part, which might damage the Russian-American relations, is unacceptable for us. Interstate relations and communications are much more important than squabbles around the activity of secret services, I think.”
So, does Edward Snowden have the right to help Germany with the investigation of the case over the bugging of Angela Merkel’s telephone?
“If Snowden broke the oath of allegiance in the U.S. then his current conduct doesn’t arouse any surprise,” Lieutenant-General Alexander Mikhailov, Ret., formerly first deputy chief of the department for information and analysis at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in an interview with Itar-Tass.
“Recall that Snowden didn’t give any oaths to Russia,” Gen Mikhailov went on. “Generally speaking, he’s a very special type of a person. Consent to encroach on the conditions of his stay under political asylum in Russia and to cooperate with Germany’s prosecutorial authorities speaks volumes about him.”
Still the expert believes that “relations with Germany and the European Union, which has raised its hackles against the U.S. diktat embracing the entire union at present, not just a separate country” have more value for Russia now.
The complexity of the situation was also noted by Yuri Kobaladze, Major-General, Ret., of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. “That’s something almost entirely incredible,” he told Itar-Tass in a comment on Snowden’s willingness to become an eyewitness in a case on telephone snooping in Germany.
Major-General Alexei Kondaurov, Ret., a member of Russia’s Council for Foreign and Security Policy who worked for the Soviet KGB over more than twenty years, told Itar-Tass he was captivated by the situation around the bugging of Angela Merkel’s phone.
“I’ve been watching German TV channels the whole day and German politicians are quoting Snowden, who says he can’t leave the Russian territory because otherwise Germany should give him the guarantees that he won’t be extradited to the U.S.,” Gen Kondaurov said.
“Members of the Bundestag’s investigative commission say they would like to speak to Snowden in Moscow while lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who supervises the situation around the man, makes reminders to German TV correspondents that Snowden can’t do damage to Russian-American relations while staying on the Russian territory - something that Vladimir Putin said earlier,” he said.
Gen Kondaurov believes Germany will not want to plunge into a serious quarrel with the U.S. because of the snooping scandal and it will be really much more interesting what steps the Americans are going to take in the current situation.
A somewhat different opinion was voiced to Itar-Tass by Fyodor Lukyanov, the President of the Council for Foreign and Security Policy, whom Itar-Tass asked whether or not Snowden was violating the warning of the Russian authorities against inflicting any damage on the U.S. partners.
“I just don’t see how Snowden could possibly do any damage to Russia’s partners if he helped Germany, a country quite respected by Russia, to probe on the absolutely legitimate grounds into the circumstances of bugging the telephone of its Federal Chancellor,” Lukyanov said.
Vyacheslav Nikonov, an MP representing the United Russia party told Itar-Tass: “How can the clearing-out of this particular situation do damage to our American partners?”
First published in Itar-Tass.
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