Russia Will Not Hand Him Over

July 25th, 2013

Interview with Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s Lawyer – Published on Spiegel Online International, by Benjamin Bidder and Matthias Schepp in Moscow, July 24, 2013.

Now that Russian authorities have provided him with papers, Edward Snowden will soon be able to leave the transit zone of the Moscow airport, where he has been holed up for weeks. In an interview, his lawyer discusses the whistleblower’s plans and how Russia is testing the US … //

… SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is he afraid of?

Kucherena: Not a single day passes without Washington threatening yet another country with sanctions if it provides Snowden with assistance. And hardly a day passes without some kind of statement from the State Department. Of course that troubles him. In the event of an extradition to the US, he fears torture or the death penalty. That’s why he is seeking asylum in Russia.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So he hasn’t left the airport’s transit zone at all over the weeks?

  • Kucherena: I am convinced of this. If he had been able to leave the terminal, at the very least he could have gotten another shirt. I have seen him in the same clothing over and over again. He doesn’t have much he can change into.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Did the intelligence service shield him? Who is with him?

  • Kucherena: Why should he be shielded? The transit zone is a restricted area. It’s not easy for anyone to just get in there. It is a secure area. The only person with him is Sarah Harrison of Wikileaks.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How did Snowden spend his time?

  • Kucherena: He surfed the Web a lot and chatted with his friends. He plans to learn Russian. I gave him a spelling book so that he can learn his ABCs in Russian.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How did you communicate with him?

  • Kucherena: Only by telephone or in person. He called and said he wanted a meeting. Then I drove to meet him. We don’t discuss anything by telephone and we speak to each other with the help of an interpreter.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What kind of specific help did Snowden need from you?

  • Kucherena: During our second meeting, I asked him why he was staying at the airport for so long. “I don’t know what I should do,” he answered. I help him to understand the legal situation in Russia.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you assisting him with his asylum application? … //

… SPIEGEL ONLINE: Hasn’t Snowden long since been taken under the wing of Russian intelligence? Someone must have helped him find you and make other contacts.

  • Kucherena: If he had wanted to speak with the agents, he would have contacted them directly. I assume that Wikileaks helped him with the invitation list for the meeting.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Russia has an enormous intelligence apparatus. Tapped phone calls of opposition members sometimes turn up in media sources that sympathize with the Kremlin. Isn’t the demonstrative show of support for Snowden a bit hypocritical?

  • Kucherena: I am for honesty. The Americans preach from the pulpit that they protect their constitution, that people come first, and that their rights and freedoms are inviolable. Of course, the laws allow special operations and limitations for things like the fight against terrorists, but not on such a scale as this!

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What does Snowden know about Russia?

  • Kucherena: He has only general ideas about our country. But he is interested in our culture. He has asked about the Bolshoi Theater. When everything is decided and he can finally leave the airport, he will certainly need time to get his bearings in Russia.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Can you rule out the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t making a deal with US President Barack Obama after all?

  • Kucherena: Russia will not hand him over.

(full interview text).

Links:

Snooping Fears: German Firms Race to Shield Secrets, on Spiegel Online International, by Claus Hecking, July 23, 2013; Edward Snowden’s revelations about data surveillance have left German firms feeling acutely vulnerable to industrial espionage. In the medium-sized business sector, which contains a host of world leaders in high-tech fields, the race is on to shield vital know-how;

Key Partners: Secret Links Between Germany and the NSA, on Spiegel Online International, by SPIEGEL, July 22, 2013
(Photo Gallery): Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said she knew nothing about American surveillance activities in Germany. But documents seen by SPIEGEL show that German intelligence cooperates closely with the NSA and even uses spy software provided by the US …;

Edward Snowden and Financial Speculation Taxes, on RWER Blog, by Dean Baker, July 23, 2013.

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