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Snowden asks ally to help get U.S. charges dropped

| Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
In this video frame grab provided by LifeNews via Rossia 24 TV channel, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden looks over his shoulder during a boat trip on the Moscow River in Moscow, with the Christ the Savior Cathedral in the background. LifeNews said the video was shot in September 2013 and Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, confirmed the photo's authenticity. Snowden is calling for international help to persuade the U.S. to drop its espionage charges against him, according to a letter a German lawmaker released Friday after he met the American in Moscow. (AP Photo/LifeNews via Rossia 24 TV channel) TV OUT

BERLIN — The United States refused to show any leniency to fugitive Edward Snowden on Friday, even as Secretary of State John Kerry conceded that eavesdropping on allies had happened on “automatic pilot.”

Snowden made his appeal for clemency in a letter released on Friday by a German lawmaker who met with him in Moscow. In it, the American asked for international help to persuade the United States to drop spying charges against him and said he would like to testify before the Congress about the National Security Agency's surveillance activities.

Snowden indicated he would be willing to help German officials investigate alleged U.S. spying in Germany, said Hans-Christian Stroebele, a lawmaker with the opposition Green Party.

“If the message is that Mr. Snowden wants to give us information then we'll gladly accept that,” German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said. A week ago German media reported that the NSA had monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Stroebele said Snowden appeared healthy and cheerful during their meeting at an undisclosed location in Moscow. The Germans were taken to the meeting by unidentified security officials under “strict secrecy.”

In his one-page typed letter, written in English, Snowden complained that the U.S. government “continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not respond directly to Snowden's appeal, but said the American position “has not changed.”

Lon Snowden said that his son will not travel to Germany as long as the U.S. charges remain in place.

“My son would love to come back to the United States but I'm not sure it will be safe for him, even if all charges are dropped,” Snowden said.

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