Switzerland will most likely guarantee safety to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, if he comes to testify against the NSA’s spying activities, Swiss media said.
In the document, titled “What rules are to be followed if Edward Snowden is brought to Switzerland and then the United States makes an extradition request,” Switzerland’s Attorney General stated that Snowden could be guaranteed safety if he arrives in the country to testify, Sonntags Zeitung reported.
In the document, the authority said that Switzerland does not extradite a US citizen, if the individual’s “actions constitute a political offense, or if the request has been politically motivated,” Swiss ATS news agency reported. Snowden’s safety can thus be guaranteed if it is ruled that the charges against him have a “predominantly political character,” the document concluded.
The only obstacle for that could be “higher-level government commitments,” the Office of the Attorney General said, adding that it must be verified if such obligations do, in fact, exist.
The document was reportedly requested last November. Snowden’s Swiss lawyer, Marcel Bosonnet, said he is pleased with the Attorney General’s conclusions.
“There is evidence that Edward Snowden meets the criteria of refugee status under the Geneva Convention and therefore should be granted asylum,” she told Sonntags Zeitung. Swiss politicians meanwhile are calling to welcome Snowden to Switzerland as soon as possible.
Snowden arrived to Moscow on the evening of June 24, 2013, flying from Hong Kong. He had intended to catch a connecting flight to Cuba. However, his passport was voided by the US, leaving him effectively stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
On August 1, 2013, Russia granted him asylum for one year, saying it legally had no other choice. A year later, Snowden has received a residence permit in Russia, which is valid for three years, starting on August 1, 2014.
Snowden is wanted by the US on charges of espionage and theft of government property after leaking a vast trove of classified material to journalists that lifted the lid of secrecy on a vast range of the National Security Agency’s global spying operations.
He also joined the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founded by Daniel Ellsberg, and was elected in absentia as rector of the University of Glasgow.