The Swiss attorney general has reportedly said that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should be guaranteed safety from extradition to the U.S., if he travels to Switzerland to testify about the intelligence agency’s surveillance programs.
Sunday reports in Le Matin Dimanche and Sonntags Zeitung both cited a document, written by the attorney general last November in order to establish the legal situation around a potential Snowden visit, as saying an extradition request would be rejected if the Swiss authorities saw it as political. The document stated that only “higher state obligations” could override this position.
According to Marcel Bosonnet, reportedly Snowden’s legal representative in Switzerland, the position means that “the legal requirements for safe conduct are met,” and Snowden has shown interest in visiting Switzerland. Glenn Greenwald, the journalist and Snowden confidante, has previously recommended that he take asylum there.
Right now, Snowden is in Russia, where he was a month ago granted a three-year residency permit. Snowden was originally stranded in Russia after the U.S. cancelled his passport while he was en route from Hong Kong to Latin America, but the permit came with the ability to travel outside Russia for up to three months at a time.
Snowden has already given testimony to the European Parliament about surveillance by the NSA and its partners (who, Greenwald warned, include Swiss intelligence), but he only did so remotely as no European country has guaranteed him safety from extradition.
It was reported a year ago that Snowden had sought asylum in Switzerland among other countries, but this was denied by the authorities there. He’s been to Switzerland before, when working for the CIA, though chatlog records published by Salon suggested he found the place “nightmarishly expensive and horrifically classist.”