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Nov 03 2013

Support for Snowden grows

Leading Germans, including some from chancellor Angela Merkel’s own party, are calling for Germany to give Edward Snowden asylum, with the former general secretary saying “Snowden has done the western world a great service. It is now up to us to help him.” This suggests that the tide is definitely shifting in his favor, despite a massive US effort to portray Snowden as a traitor and a criminal.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to come across an article in the New York Times by reporter Alison Smale that had the title Snowden Appeals to U.S. for Clemency.

Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American security contractor granted asylum by Russia, has appealed to Washington to stop treating him like a traitor for revealing that the United States has been eavesdropping on its allies, a German politician who met with Mr. Snowden said on Friday.

The appeal came in a letter from Mr. Snowden carried to Berlin by Hans-Christian Ströbele, a veteran member of the Green Party in the German Parliament, who said that he and two journalists for German media met with Mr. Snowden and a person described as his assistant — probably his British aide, Sarah Harrison — at an undisclosed location in or near Moscow on Thursday for almost three hours.

In his letter, Mr. Snowden, 30, also appealed for clemency. He said his disclosures about American intelligence activity at home and abroad, which he called “systematic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act,” had had positive effects. [My italics-MS]

An ‘appeal for clemency’ is usually made by someone who accepts guilt for some wrongdoing but is arguing for more lenient punishment. I was surprised because up to now Snowden has been quite principled and defiant, saying that he felt that he had a duty to expose the wrongdoing of the US government and was not at all apologetic about it. Rather than being contrite, he has been quite firm in his conviction that he has done the right thing. So had he suddenly changed his mind?

No, he had not. Smale has distorted his meaning by the repeated use of the word ‘appeal’. You can read Snowden’s letter here. I see no signs at all in it of what Smale is saying. What Snowden is saying is what he has been saying all along, that he did what was right and the he hopes that the US government will come to recognize that. Rather than appealing for clemency, he is hoping that the US government will come to its senses.

Smale seems to be one of those reporters who cannot quite wrap her head around the fact that there are people who are principled enough to do the right thing and not feel contrite about upsetting their own governments.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    mnb0

    “despite a massive US effort to portray Snowden as a traitor and a criminal.”
    I don’t know about the USA, but I can assure you that this effort has completely failed as far as European public opinion is concerned. It’s relative indifference up to recent can be explained by the view that Snowden was largely an American problem and not a European one.
    That view is changing. The European perception always has been that Snowden is David taking up Goliath; now he is becoming David actually fighting our (ie European) case.
    Obama definitely is on the losing track. This guy

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Christian_Str%C3%B6bele

    has had a lot of praise in both Germany and The Netherlands for meeting Snowden. As a result Merkel can’t afford to back Obama anymore. My advise to you, interested in Snowden as you are:

    follow some reputed German newspapers next few weeks. One example:

    http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2013-11/merkel-snowden-gastbeitrag

    “Snowden deserves the Nobel Price for Peace” (yeah, like Obama).

    Besides Die Zeit also Die Welt, Der Spiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine are important and reliable newspapers.

  2. 2
    Mano Singham

    This is where my lack of language skills really hurts. I have to depend on others to provide translations.

  3. 3
    malefue

    Spiegel Online has an english language area, Mano.

  4. 4
    Mano Singham

    Thanks. I’ll check it out.

  5. 5
    mervinferd

    Right.

    We discussed this before. The man is still a grandiose narcissist and a pest. “Manifesto” my arse.

    It’s good politics for Merkel to say nice things about Snowden. But, if you think the Germans aren’t monitoring the heads of state of other countries, I’ve got a bridge I want to sell you. Real cheap and barely used.

  6. 6
    colnago80

    The 3 newspapers cited are very reliable as newspapers go (they are the German equivalent of the New York Times and the Washington Post). Der Spiegel, which is the German equivalent of Time Magazine, is somewhat more problematical.

  7. 7
    Pierce R. Butler

    mervinferd @ # 2 – Pls stop trying to paint Edward Snowden with the Julian Assange brush. Thank you.

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