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Spies All Over: Loose Lips Disrupting State Business …

  • July 6th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

Snowden RESIZEEdward Snowden this week remained in limbo, looking for political asylum, more than one month after his leaking information of US intelligence operations against European allies.

MAN ON THE RUN

On 20.5.13 the former CIA employee and outside information technology contractor with America’s National Security Agency left the United States, travelling first to Hong Kong and then Moscow.

Details on his revelations were coming out through leading media outlets, headed by Der Spiegel and then The Guardian.

BREAKING IN

They included information on the inner workings of the PRISM and Tempora surveillance programs, monitoring activity on the telephone networks and Internet; piling up data on millions of private transactions.

The United States President, Barack Obama, affirmed the information was being accessed to block terrorist activity. Citizens were not being subject to blanket eavesdropping and the system was being tolerated in a trade-off between privacy and security, he said.

More to follow:

The NSA, as Mr Snowden revealed, had been listening-in on the European Union, stealing information from its offices in the USA; and also from EU computers in Brussels, accessed from NSA offices at the Headquarters of the NATO alliance, ir was said.

POLITICAL BACKLASH

It brought a very ruffled response from European governments.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, told the European Parliament at Strasbourg this week (2.7.13): “If these news reports are proven true, this would be very disturbing and raise serious and very important concerns. This is why as soon as media reports were released, we have immediately requested from the US a full and immediate clarification on the matter.”

In the immediate and blaring background was the imminent commencement of an historic round of trade and investment negotiations between America and the EU.

Agreement would signal a huge change from decades of tension and discord over trade protection on both sides, and new options for economic growth.

Said the European Commission in a backgrounder: “When negotiations are completed, this EU-US agreement would be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated – and it could add around 0.5% to the EU’s annual economic output.”

EVENTS COME TOGETHER

Two events uncomfortably coincided on 14.6.13:

The then-27 EU Member States agreed to commence the negotiations with America; and in the United States, federal prosecutors charged the missing Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.

Mr Snowden, 30, was reported stranded in the transit zone at a Moscow airport; his hosts there affirming they had no extradition dealings with the United States which might have seen him sent there; but also, hardly in sympathy with his leaking habits, not entertaining any idea of an open-ended asylum.

TWO MEN STRANDED

With applications made to 20 countries, and high-level pressure from the United States to turn him down; by the week’s end, 6.6.13, acceptances had come from Venezuela and Nicaragua; hardly accessible destinations for a traveler from Moscow with his passport revoked by the authorities at home.

Typical among responses has been that of the French Interior Ministry: “The United States is a friendly country, a democracy with an independent justice system. This question should be left to the United States to deal with.”

Edward Snowden is being assisted by the Wikileaks organisation, the anti-secrecy movement maintaining its chief cause de celebre in the person of another man in uneasy transit, Julian Assange, now more than one year a guest of the Embassy of Equador, in London. See EUAustralia Online: Assange in waiting, (24.8.12); Australian names: Julian Assange …, (24.6.12).

Reference

J-M Barroso, Speech by EU Commission President Barroso at EU Parliament plenary session on conclusions of European Council, 2.7.13. http://www.eu-un.europa.eu/articles/en/article_13720_en.htm,(6.7.13).

Deutsche Welle, Bonn, US secret surveillance program whistleblower identified, 10.6.13. www.dw.de/us-secret-surveillance-program-whistleblower-identified/a-16869737, (6.7.13).

European Commission, Brussels, Trade: United States. http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/united-states/,(6.7.13).

Le Monde, Paris, Si Snowden entrait en France, “la police serait tenue de l’interpeller”,
(If Snowden arrived in France the police would need to see him), 4.7.13.

VOA, Washington, NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others, 5.7.13. http://www.voanews.com/content/low-key-reaction-to-french-surveillance-allegations/1695822.html,(6.7.13).

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