After receiving the strict terms set out by Russian president Vladimir Putin, the American NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, decided to expand his search for a country willing to grant him asylum. Wikileaks posted a list of countries that received official requests, and while some of them aren’t all that surprising, quite a few happen to be in the EU… Germany included. Countries that have so far received official asylum requests include Ecuador, Iceland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Norway, Finland, China, Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua and India.
So what are the chances that Germany would accept Snowden’s request for asylum? Germany will more than likely turn it down, and officials have already noted that if they were to accept, Snowden would have to be on German soil before any action could be taken. The only thing keeping it a possibility is the recent outrage expressed by German citizens and politicians over the large amount of spying being conducted in Germany by the United States.
A German Green Party parliamentarian, Hans-Christian Ströbele, commented on Tuesday that “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.” According to a report by Der Spiegel, “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.”
Jürgen Trittin, the parliamentary floor leader for the Green Party, argued for Snowden’s European asylum bid in a TV interview, stating “He should get safe haven here in Europe because he has done Europe a service… Democratic countries should be ashamed that someone who has served democracy and revealed a massive breach of fundamental rights should need to seek refuge with despots who do not themselves uphold fundamental rights.”
Despite the negative feeling towards the United States’ spying efforts, Germany generally only grants asylum towards those facing political, racial, or religious opposition, according to an interview with Wolfgang Bosbach, a member of the Christian Democrats and chair of the Internal Affairs Committee in German parliament. In Snowden’s case, he is being sought on criminal charges and is being treated as a felon.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert wouldn’t confirm the asylum request when asked on Monday, but did state that any request would be taken into consideration and reviewed on the basis of the Geneva Conventions.
Official statements aside, if Germany were to help Edward Snowden, they would be sacrificing their relationship with the United States. While some countries may not hold much value in that relationship, Germany surely does.