Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Threatened Germany Over Snowden Asylum

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Glenn Greenwald

During a conference held to award Journalist Glenn Greenwald the Siebenpfeiffer Prize for Journalism, Greenwald reported a conversation in which German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. In this the Vice Chancellor commented to him that the United States threatened Germany with withholding vital intelligence of terrorist activity if the nation granted asylum to Edward Snowden or otherwise allowed him to travel to Germany.

The event shows the extreme measures the Administration is willing to take regarding whistleblowers and others labeled as threats.

The revelation began when Vice Chancellor Gabriel, speaking of the plight of Edward Snowden, was interrupted by an audience member who asked why Snowden was not offered asylum in Germany.  Gabriel replied that Germany would be required to extradite Snowden to the United States.

Here is a video via Saarbrücker Zeitung containing excerpts of the Vice Chancellor’s and Mr. Greenwald’s speeches.

Later, when Greenwald had an opportunity to speak to the Vice Chancellor in person, he enquired about the asylum issue.  Greenwald later revealed to the public this conversation via Greenwald’s news service.

In the article, Mr. Greenwald wrote of some truly troubling behavior on behalf of the Obama Administration:

Afterward [the ceremony], however, when I pressed the vice chancellor (who is also head of the Social Democratic Party, as well as the country’s economy and energy minister) as to why the German government could not and would not offer Snowden asylum — which, under international law, negates the asylee’s status as a fugitive — he told me that the U.S. government had aggressively threatened the Germans that if they did so, they would be “cut off” from all intelligence sharing. That would mean, if the threat were carried out, that the Americans would literally allow the German population to remain vulnerable to a brewing attack discovered by the Americans by withholding that information from their government.

This is not the first time the U.S. has purportedly threatened an allied government to withhold evidence of possible terror plots as punishment. In 2009, a British national, Binyam Mohamed, sued the U.K. government for complicity in his torture at Bagram and Guantánamo. The High Court ordered the U.K. government to provide Mohamed’s lawyers with notes and other documents reflecting what the CIA told British intelligence agents about Mohamed’s abuse.

In response, the U.K. government insisted that the High Court must reverse that ruling because the safety of British subjects would be endangered if the ruling stood. Their reasoning: the U.S. government had threatened the British that they would stop sharing intelligence, including evidence of terror plots, if they disclosed what the Americans had told them in confidence about Mohamed’s treatment — even if the disclosure were ordered by the High Court as part of a lawsuit brought by a torture victim. British government lawyers even produced a letter from an unnamed Obama official laying out that threat.

The full article may be read HERE.

Vizekanzler Sigmar Gabriel
Vizekanzler Sigmar Gabriel

Later, the Vice Chancellor’s office declined to comment to the German medium Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the asylum issue and declared there was no legal basis to offer Edward Snowden asylum.

Deutsche Welle reported the Obama administration has denied the accusation of threatening to withhold information from Berlin, according to Washington newspaper The Hill, which quotes a statement from a senior official calling the suggestion that the US threatened to withhold intelligence “baseless.”

But the question of how “baseless” Glenn Greenwald’s or Vice Chancellor Gabriel’s assertions are is not certainly arguable considering the actions of the Obama Administration in the Snowden matter.   All one has to do is look at the past actions of The Administration for guidance.

We have an Administration that declares that the accusations are baseless, yet the same administration’s NSA tapped into Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, ordered the grounding and search of the aircraft of a head of state on mere suspicion that Edward Snowden might be aboard, and made a similar threat to another NATO ally, the United Kingdom.

The row comes down to a matter of credibility of either side in the Edward Snowden controversy. Who is the more trustworthy, The Obama Administration or Glenn Greenwald?


The Intercept
Deutsche Welle
Saarbrücker Zeitung via YouTube

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180 thoughts on “Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Threatened Germany Over Snowden Asylum”

  1. Max-1,

    “Agreed. However the bigger question remains, why? Where have they gone?”

    Ken Rogers

    “One of the reasons that Glenn G. or “Glenzilla,” as many of his more ardent followers refer to him 🙂 has “actual backbone” is that he made enough money as a practicing attorney to start his journalistic blog “Unclaimed Territory” independently of the financiers and editors of the corporate media, the public relations and propaganda ministry of the USG.”

    That’s exactly right about GG.

    I think another issue with legal commentators is the current law school structure. Legal commentators are often law professors, and in the current law school structure, it’s rather difficult for a law professor to speak with a backbone without criticizing their own position and institution. There are a few exceptions, like Brian Tamanaha and JT (sometimes), but in a field where authority, tradition and institution deference is critical to professional success and advancement it’s not all that surprising.

    Law school professors profit greatly off an eroded and corrupt law school scheme. They routinely bring in six figure salaries, while leaving their students with six figure debts and average job prospects. If the particular school they teach at doesn’t, they are aware of dozens of schools that engage in this practice. If they will not speak truthfully about that, one’s own position, it’s tough to expect them to take a principled stand on an issue that doesn’t affect them.

  2. Po and Ken, it does bring a sense of human goodness to see these Israeli women standing up on the principal of human decency, as were the other groups you mentioned Po. Makes a person’s heart soar in the face of the kind of hatred we see on a daily basis.

  3. Ken
    Thank you for the link, so inspiring!
    It is fascinating that that in order for any oppressed group to achieve its aim, members of the oppressing group had to lose life, limb and leisure to helping them in that pursuit. Men in feminism, Jews for Palestinians, Whites in the civil rights movement, Afrikandeers for the ANC, the free for the slaves, Germans for Jews…
    Those truly are the greatest blessing of humanity, who dare risk everything to reaffirm the unity of humanity, who can see beyond the whims of fate that made today he the lesser and he the higher.

    1. @ Inga, po. et al

      Speaking of Israelis who oppose the occupation, Miko Peled, as an Israeli general’s son, is a very powerful spokesman on behalf of the Palestinians, his history of the state of Israel being singularly compelling. Because of his intelligence, his compassion, his first-hand knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from living in Israel, his historical research, and also because his father actually participated in the establishment of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, Peled’s testimony is indispensably important.

      Anyone who is serious about wanting to know the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot, in good faith, ignore Peled’s testimony.

      In the interview linked to below, he talks about Israel’s history and his book, *The General’s Son*:

  4. Ken Rogers
    Yes, I did know that Iceland prosecuted and jailed some of the law breaking bankers…and the sky did not fall.

    We have two African Americans on here?

  5. Ken Rogers

    This is very typical of you now that you have established yourself and your real persona. It doesn’t matter what you say your name is. I know who you are. Roseanne Barre has Dissociative Personality disorder and she has gone public with it.

    I have read your posts.. Very good I am sooo impressed. You know she has this and yet neglected to tell your little following about it but showed them some inane films. Interestingly enough, you are directing the two African Americans that we have on here that are friendly and I hope to Jesus you don’t ruin it.

    I just want you to know, I am watching, and I want Darren to know also. This is a Law Blog. Not a gossip center about Rosanne Barre. She cannot help her disabilities.

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