Stateless in Moscow: Germany Rejects Asylum for Snowden
Germany has rejected NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's application for asylum, joining several other nations that refused to accept him on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Bolivian President Morales was forced to make a stop in Vienna due to rumors the whistleblower was on board his plane.
Germany on Tuesday evening became just the latest country to reject NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's application for asylum, with the Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry in Berlin issuing a joint statement saying that "the conditions for admittance are not fulfilled."
The suspicions proved incorrect, and South American leaders are furious. Leaders from both Ecuador and Argentina have called for an extraordinary meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to discuss the incident. The Venezuelan government added that it was a clear violation of the diplomatic immunity that all heads of state enjoy.
Only Venezuela has said that it was willing in principle, though no official decision has been made.
Germany, however, spent much of Tuesday agonizing over his request. It was clear from the outset that European Union rules, which stipulate that those applying for asylum must be on the territory or at the border of the state with which they intend to submit an application, prohibited Berlin from granting political asylum. But many political leaders, particularly from Germany's Green Party, had demanded that Snowden be allowed to come to Germany on humanitarian grounds. Some Green Party leaders also pointed out that Snowden is an important witness in a significant case of espionage involving German interests and should be brought to Germany as a witness.
'Don't Do Anything'
Green Party parliamentarian Hans-Christian Ströbele, for example, said on Tuesday: "With even federal prosecutors investigating possible espionage against Germany, the government shouldn't just offer Snowden asylum, but also -- as with the tax informants in Switzerland -- perhaps even witness protection." Ströbele was referring to CDs obtained by German officials in recent years containing the names and bank account details of people suspected of having evaded German taxes.
The Greens aren't the only party in Germany that has exhibited sympathy for Snowden and his plight. The center-left Social Democrats demanded on Tuesday that his asylum application be carefully examined and the Free Democrats (FDP), Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner, also showed no inclination to reject Snowden out of hand. Many FDP leaders have been particularly strident in their criticism of US spying in recent days. Among Merkel's conservatives, several politicians have expressed respect for Snowden.
Both center-right and center-left politicians in Germany defended Berlin's decision on Wednesday. Senior Christian Democrat Michael Grosse-Brömer said on public television on Wednesday that the decision was "legally based," adding that Snowden did not fulfill the conditions for asylum.
Social Democrat Dieter Wiefelspütz, the party's domestic policy spokesman, said in an interview with the Mitteldeutschen Zeitung: "I cannot see that the man is being politically persecuted. He likely betrayed state secrets due to reasons of conscience. He is perhaps a hero of freedom. But that doesn't protect him from legal consequences."
cgh -- with wire reports
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