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