back to article Snowden shouldn't be extradited to US if he testifies about NSA spying, says Swiss gov

Master spook blabbermouth Edward Snowden should be granted safe passage to and from Switzerland if he testifies about surveillance, the country's attorney general has reportedly said. Last year, the one-time NSA sysadmin leaked files revealing some of the secret spying tactics of UK and US spooks. Snowden currently has …

  1. Piloti

    Is there a direct flight from Moscow to Zurich / Bern [No.] Genf or Lausanne..... ?

    Basel almost certainly not.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      One could charter one. Doesn't cost all that much according to Avinode: 17'000 GBP in a Citation 2, one way.

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge

      The texts says "shouldn't" not "won't".

      I encourage Mister Snowden to make sure there are steel clad assurances in place before he goes skiing.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Also, fly around Ukraine because the are incontinent Buks.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He's have to fly over a lot of countries and if they were not shy about pulling a Bolivian aircraft out of the skies he needs to be careful.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        There's a solid block of NATO countries surrounding Switzerland (and Austria) who would presumably deny overflight, so I'm not sure how he's meant to get there short of launching him from Baikonur.

        [Yes, I know Baikonur is in Kazakhstan, but I don't know any Russian spaceports.]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          block of NATO countries

          may well block a flight *if they knew he was on board*. Maybe if Putin was on board going off skiing they might be reluctant to deny overflight?

    4. drone2903 in Kanuckistant

      Re: direct flight

      4 a day, sez google

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: direct flight

        There are lots of flights, at least 4 each a day to Zurich and Geneva.

        Unfortunately, the Chicago Convention allows any state to require any aircraft overflying its airspace to land, whether or not it's scheduled to. And once it's landed, they can search it.

        Fortunately, that same convention forbids the use of military weapons against those aircraft, so it can't actually be forced down, at least in theory. But I daresay there would be severe repercussions from an aircraft refusing a lawful demand to land. At the very least, the airline would be denied access to that country's airspace for the foreseeable future, which would put a serious damper on their operations.

        So really, the Swiss would have to get safe-conduct guarantees not just from their own government, but also from every other country on the flightpath. Which doesn't sound easy. And at this stage, the reassurance falls somewhat short of a "guarantee" even from the Swiss government itself.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: direct flight

          And Russia could retaliate by banning that country's airlines from flying over Russia.

          It's a long way for Air France or Lufthansa to the far east if they have to go west.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: direct flight

            >And Russia could retaliate by banning that country's airlines from flying over Russia.

            It is rumoured that could happen any day anyway for EU countries, as a counter-sanction.

        2. James Micallef Silver badge

          Re: direct flight

          " the Chicago Convention allows any state to require any aircraft overflying its airspace to land, whether or not it's scheduled to. And once it's landed, they can search it."

          Yes, but do Poland, Germany etc have access to passenger manifests? If it's a direct Russia-Switzerland flight, why should they? And given that for example Germany are mightily ticked off with the US about the Merkel phonetapping, why would they pluck Snowden out of eh sky for the yanks, even if they knew he was overflying?

        3. NileH

          Re: direct flight

          You underestimate how supine NATO and EU states are when confronted by a demand from the USA; safe-conduct assurances mean nothing if the State Department demands that the plane be ordered to land.

          It's not just a risk that an executive decision to award Safe Conduct might be rescinded, or given in bad faith: I can easily see a personal assurance from a small, weak state's President, Prime Minister and Minister of Justice being ignored by the Foreign Office or the Defence Ministry - and that matters if the Defence Ministry runs the 'civil' air traffic control system.

          Snowden's best bet is to hitch a ride with an oligarch's tax advisers on a private jet to Zurich.

  2. The_Idiot

    Cue Sir Humphrey...

    <

    Only "higher state obligations" could overrule that position, the AG reportedly added.

    >

    Mr President, I have just heard we have had, or rather, are about to have, or rather, will get if certain events necessitate we get, a telephone call from the American Secretary of State. Apparently your forthcoming visit to the White House may not. Forth, I mean. Or possibly come. One of those. And in any case, even if it does, it won't be at the White House. They've picked out a rather quaint off-White House. In, I believe, Poughkeepsie. Yes, sir. I'm reliably informed that is, indeed, a place. And unfortunately the President won't be available. No, sir. Nor the Vice-President. They're sending the secretary to meet you. No, Mr President - not the Secretary. The secretary. Or someone's secretary, anyway. Probably. Possibly. No, Mr President. I have no idea what's happened. Oh - but purely by coincidence, and with absolutely no bearing on the matter, I see you haven't got round to signing Mr Snowdon's Extradition yet? Oh, you have? Telephone call, Mr President? I really don't know what you mean, sir....

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    It's a long way

    from Moscow to Switzerland. I have the feeling Eddy is now a non-exiting resident of Russia. As much as the underdogs pull for him, he's a permanent resident now, da?

    1. The Dude

      Re: It's a long way

      I don't believe Snowden is permanently exiled to Russia. Safe passage to and from Switzerland is a "foot out the door", so to speak - and a sign of things to come. As more governments change around the world, the impact of the revelations will start to have a political effect. I would not be at all surprised to see many countries offering asylum in coming years. Perhaps even Canada, when the current pro-USA regime is ejected.

      {a down-vote}... really????

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. The Dude

          Re: It's a long way

          sez you!

          Besides, there'd be no war over it. Thousands of draft dodgers came to Canada... and no war over that either.

          1. dotdavid

            Re: It's a long way

            "Canada would not win a rerun of the 1812-14 war."

            That depends. Would it be fought using period weapons for maximum realism?

        3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: It's a long way

          "Canada would not win a rerun of the 1812-14 war."

          sharpens knives

          Try us, bub.

          1. sisk Silver badge

            Re: It's a long way

            A war with Canada? Over Snowden, a guy that a lot of people consider a hero for blowing the whistle? I think not, unless Obama's a hell of a lot stupider than I give him credit for.

            Go ahead, give all the conspiracy theorists who've been cleaning guns, biding time, and gaining numbers for the last few years a reason to start shooting. They wouldn't win, of course, but the resulting domestic chaos would be an absolute nightmare. We've already had one way-too-close call with those guys at the Bundy ranch. I don't think anyone who understands what almost happens there wants a repeat. If the shooting had started, and they were one itchy trigger finger on either side of the line away from it, it wouldn't have stopped there.

          2. The Dude

            Re: It's a long way

            Besides, it isn't actually necessary to be able to win a war in order to discourage invasion. It is only necessary to be able to make the war cost the potential invader more than the spoils are worth. That has worked well for the Swiss, and it would work well enough for Canada.

          3. P. Lee
            Coat

            Re: It's a long way

            >>Canada would not win a rerun of the 1812-14 war."

            >sharpens knives

            >Try us, bub.

            But Americans are so cute, just like baby sea... ah, yes, I see your point.

          4. sisk Silver badge

            Re: It's a long way

            sharpens knives

            Try us, bub.

            Bringing knives to a gun fight?

            Sorry, couldn't resist.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: It's a long way

              http://cdn1-www.craveonline.com/assets/uploads/2012/01/file_181401_0_wolverine300658.jpg

              1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: It's a long way

                How the Hell did we get off on a War of 1812 tangent?

              2. sisk Silver badge

                Re: It's a long way

                Well if you're bringing HIM to the fight I'll make sure to have a big electromagnet handy. :-)

        4. Grade%

          Re: It's a long way

          "[...]Canada would not win a rerun of the 1812-14 war."

          Stop sniffing that gun oil, buddy.

        5. veti Silver badge

          Re: It's a long way

          Obviously, you're not au fait with Canada's strategic plans.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

    It is realistic to assume a risk of US interference (unlike Assange)

    The question is: would any nation really want to interfere with a Swiss registered government plane? Neutrality has as advantage that it puts the country in a good position to mediate in all sorts of conflicts - I'm not sure the US could be convincing enough to get countries to mess with an official, lawful government flight so they'd have to get their own US operatives involved, and that risks massive problems of its own.

    Given that the Swiss are seeking direct information at judicial level in what could become yet another rather massive political and criminal scandal for the US (because there isn't a single NSA activity I've seen so far that isn't flat out illegal in Switzerland), any US interference would indicate that they have, umm, something to hide.

    Given the way the US has sought to treat Switzerland (the "people helping tax evaders" - to distract from the role Wall Street played in the creation of yet another economic crisis), I suspect there is no enthusiasm left to be of any assistance whatsoever other than when it really fits within Swiss law (and then it's still up to the judge). For the latter, the US would have to provide probably cause in a manner that is 100% compliant with Swiss law, and I suspect that would not really be possible without the sort of embarrassing disclosures they are ever so keen to avoid..

    Ah, the irony. First they got served cold by Putin, and now the Swiss are about to return some of their favours. As the Swiss don't have anti-terror backdoors in their legislation there are no real loopholes to exploit either.

    Payback is a b*tch :)

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

      "It is realistic to assume a risk of US interference (unlike Assange)"

      Not if he travels in a diplomatic bag. I feel fairly sure that he could be delivered to the Russian embassy in Berne if Mr Putin felt that it served his purposes.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

        The US is not anywhere near stupid enough as to launch fighter jets to try and hijack an unarmed civilian aircraft in European airspace. At best (if successful), it would cause the biggest international incident between Europe and America since the Trent affair with repercussions so extreme that it wouldn't be worth it.

        And what are the chances of pulling it off? If the US did intercept the aircraft with fighters and forced it to change direction, what do you think going to happen then? The pilot flicks his transponder to "7500" (hijacked) and the heavily armed Quick Reaction Force fighters from the local airforce afterburn in with twitchy trigger fingers wanting to know WTF is going on in their airspace.

        What's going to happen then? When the civilian aircraft decides it's no longer going to follow the directions given by the US fighters then what are they going to do? Open fire (even with warning shots) in another countries airspace with armed fighters belonging to that country sitting behind them?

        Never going to happen.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

          Of course you don't scramble interceptors to force Snowden's plane down. All you need is a special ops team and a SAM, and you blame it on convenient locals… "There was a previously-unidentified separatist Russian-speaking Pole terrorist group…". Don't forget to liquidate the special ops team when you're done.

          I really hope I'm joking.

        3. FredBloggs61

          Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

          "The US is not anywhere near stupid enough"

          I stopped reading there.

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

      "Ah, the irony. First they got served cold by Putin, and now the Swiss are about to return some of their favours. As the Swiss don't have anti-terror backdoors in their legislation there are no real loopholes to exploit either."

      The Swiss aren't exactly squeaky clean, but their crimes are of the abetting tax evasion kind. Would be a way to help reduce the US deficit: a few multi-billion dollar fines for Swiss banks for tax evasion would deal with a week or two's government overspend.

      That's the payback's payback.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

        " a few multi-billion dollar fines for Swiss banks for tax evasion..."

        The thing is, Switzerland and the rest of Europe are getting fed up with the US's extraterritoriality provisions. Nothing of what Swiss banks did was illegal under Swiss law so US is treading a very fine line with the concessions extracted from Swiss banks in the last few years, the mega-fines it has already inflicted on French banks etc. If they push the line too far, the rest of the world might decide that operating in the US is more trouble than it's worth and just say <Cartman> "screw you guys, I'm going home" </Cartman>

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

          The Swiss fines were for abetting tax evasion by US citizens by the US branch of the bank. We all know that Swiss banks engage in tax evasion. If they want to do with without the dollar markets then that's nothing to do with the US. But if they allow and encourage US citizens to evade US taxes, then they are guilty. I think moaning about extraterritoriality in this particular case (fines for sanction busting by foreign banks to foreign countries are a different matter entirely) is a bit like trying to get off on a technicality. If Switzerland and Swiss banks want to be the world's money launderer and tax evader then it and they should have to deal with the consequences of that.

          1. Benjol

            Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

            Of course, it might just be that the Swiss banks were competing too well with other tax-evading places?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident? @James Micallef

          So are US Based companies sick of the EU's extraterritorial interference. But that never stopped them did it?

          As far as BANKING laws are concerned, the Swiss KNEW they were/are breaking US laws by allowing and canvassing US clients. They took the risk and got their peepee slapped. And French Bankers get what they deserve.

      2. midcapwarrior

        Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

        "not exactly squeaky clean..". Kind of an understatement.

        From selling weapons to the Nazi's and allowing rail shipments to concentration camps to favorite home of drug lords from around the world.

        If they can make money it's OK.

        Must be some way they can make a franc euro out of the deal.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?

      <quote>For the latter, the US would have to provide probably cause in a manner that is 100% compliant with Swiss law</quote>

      I wonder if Swiss law is any more robust against political abuse than Swedish law?

  5. i like crisps
    Facepalm

    TEMPTING....But it'll all end in tears.

    ....If you're thinking of going Mr Snowden, then don't forget to pack your 'kevlar underpants' and take a 'Food Taster' with you.

  6. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Nice idea in theory, but...

    Remember how among other countries France closed its airspace to the Bolivian President's plane on the SUSPICION that Snowden was onboard, which forced the Bolivian plane to land in Vienna? Then the Austrians wouldn't let it take off again until they had a chance to search the plane for Snowden? Do you really think that couldn't happen again with a civilian flight that doesn't have a head of state onboard? Mind you, the geopolitical downside of offending Bolivia is not exactly huge, but it's still a head of state on a diplomatic conveyance that was stopped merely because somebody powerful thought Snowden might be onboard.

    Eh, what do I know. I'm probably being paranoid, and its not like anyone ever has to overfly Austria or France to get to Switzerland....wait...for some reason my geography alarm bells are ringing....Eh, I probably just need to calm down and trust the government!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice idea in theory, but...

      Do you really think that couldn't happen again with a civilian flight that doesn't have a head of state onboard?

      I think it's reasonable to expect a charter paid for by the Swiss government, possibly with Swiss officials onboard - after all, he is asked to testify as a witness in a Swiss investigation so the expense is justified, and so is the political cover. Unlike Bolivia, Switzerland has serious EU leverage, so if the US is really so desperate that it will interfere with a proper judicial process there will be hell to pay.

      If the US has not yet fully realised its precarious position in Europe it will discover it when they try to interfere with a judicial investigation by a neutral nation. I'm not sure the US can risk the opposition of the whole of Europe (which will include Russia).

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Nice idea in theory, but...

        I think you are dealing with wishful thinking here. Bolivian President Evo Morales is a well known "power to the people" socialist. So is Francois Hollande of France, and he didn't hesitate for a second to throw his internationalist comrade Morales under the bus. There wasn't even a complaint from the Elysees Palace when Morales was forced down. And France has, how should I say it, the reputation for not always being the most tractable U.S. ally. Rather likewise Spain, who still views itself a bit as a mother country to Bolivia and most of the South American republics. They didn't squawk about shutting Morales out either. And Austria--almost a poster child for non-aligned nations in Europe, but they didn't complain a bit about forcing a search of Morales' plane. I don't know what the NSA/U.S. intelligence community has on these nations, but lot of EU elites are on the side of the NSA on this one and it took a LOT of inter-governmental pull to get Morales' plane forced down and searched.

        About the only thing that would work in Snowden's favor is that enough has been release that those in power might just shrug and say "the damage is done and let's not martyr him" and let him fly through to Switzerland.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice idea in theory, but...

          I think you are dealing with wishful thinking here. Bolivian President Evo Morales is a well known "power to the people" socialist. So is Francois Hollande of France, and he didn't hesitate for a second to throw his internationalist comrade Morales under the bus. There wasn't even a complaint from the Elysees Palace when Morales was forced down. (etc)

          Let's not forget that this all happened before it became abundantly clear that the secrets Snowden was carrying were not terrorist secrets, but hard evidence of just how massively the US was ignoring international agreements, laws and protocol. I bet those collaborating with the takedown of that decoy must be kicking themselves for both falling for the deception and now even accepting the original US story that prompted their collaboration..

      2. Ilmarinen
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Nice idea in theory, but...

        We may theorise about what a sensible, logical US administration would do, it having considered all options and posible consiquences. That is not the same as what the fools might actualy do.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It takes two core operatives, and a covert escort

    If they can get him over the border it is about 30 hours worth of driving (which you shouldn't - mixed mode of transport is the safest, and packets and charters don't need ID). That means 2 core drivers, a clean protective detail that has not been near diplomatic service (a number of former soldiers, best Warrant Officers). Add in false identities, measures to mess up biometrics and a number of people running parallel to create interference and confuse the trail and you're in business.

    From an operational point of view, if the Swiss want to ship Snowden they have the ability. I just can't see them use the M1 all the way, though :). I suspect the hardest part is getting him as far as Germany, but Putin may be able to help here. I don't think the US would dare interfere with a Putin flight - the man has too much leverage and can cause real trouble.

    As a matter of fact, I think the US best ensures that nothing happens to Snowden if this came to pass - the assumption would always be that they were involved, and it would pretty much shut the US access to the EU market - Silicon Valley would lose its ability to sell to EU clients overnight.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Silicon Valley would lose its ability to sell to EU clients overnight

      Um, the business world already knows that any data that is held by a US company or any of its subsidiaries is fair game to the US government, and that has not lost Silicon Valley any sales yet.

      Confirmation from Snowden in front of a Swiss court would not change that fact.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Silicon Valley would lose its ability to sell to EU clients overnight

        "and that has not lost Silicon Valley any sales yet."

        Are you sure?

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/22/business/fallout-from-snowden-hurting-bottom-line-of-tech-companies.html?_r=0

  8. tkioz

    Be interesting to see if they manage to get him there, I can see the yanks playing silly buggers, they've shown they have no respect for international law or justice before.

  9. Khaptain Silver badge

    Couple of words about the Swiss

    Before they go playing the "saving humanity and rights for all men" card, let's spin it round the other way. Let's imagine that Snowden was actually releasing Swiss banking details about drug money laundering thru Swiss accounts, illegal tax avoidance schemes etc etc.. I wonder if they would be so "welcoming".

    I seem to remember a few cases recently whereby the Swiss got slightly pissed off about people spilling the beans on Swiss banking methods, the names Mr Lapour and Mr Falciani might ring some bells.

    The Swiss are as corrupt as any other 1st world nation so I don't see why they should be anymore trustworthy than the Americans.

    Swiss meaning Bankers, Businessmen and Politcians, ie those that are actually in power.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Couple of words about the Swiss

      "The Swiss are as corrupt as any other 1st world nation so I don't see why they should be anymore trustworthy"

      The point isn't how holy or not the Swiss are, the point is that if Snowden arriving safely in Switzerland to testify is important enough TO THEM, they will make it happen even if it pisses off the US. In fact if they want him to testify it is EXACTLY because his testimony can give them bigger leverage vs the US

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Couple of words about the Swiss

        It is very important how holy they are as corruption knows no boundaries. If I were Snowden I would be asking myself what are the odds that the Swiss haven't already struck a behind the doors deal with the yanks about "exporting Snowden quietly" once he has testified in return for some other financial favour...

        Would you trust someone with your life when you can't even trust them with your bank account? Ask the Americans how they feel about their banking details being handed over.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Couple of words about the Swiss

          You can trust the Swiss to act in the best interests of the Swiss.

          If Snowden's revelations mean that Eu customers don't trust US hosted cloud services and Eu govts ban US safe harbour provisions then where would you trust as a cloud service hosting county.

          Switzerland for example?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Extra thick tinfoil required

    <double folded foil>

    Of course, Snowden could say he's on a flight to Switzerland, and the Russians are happily waving him off at the airport.

    20minutes in.. 'oh no, theres a terrible incident, evidence in the blackbox suggests an american stealth plane was involved, and he's some parts of a US missile to prove it'

    Meanwhile Snowden is kept quiet in a Baltic seaside Dacha, and Putin gets a political win at the expense of those 'warmongering Westerners'.

    </double folded foil>

  11. StimuliC

    It's Okay...

    He's really a CIA operative. LOL

    1. elDog

      Re: It's Okay...

      Actually, he's not really even there, or anywhere. Have you looked at his skin tones and facial expressions? They are obviously from a well-designed robot that can be disassembled and recreated anywhere, everywhere. Has anyone noticed that his personal life history is really just a dalliance with a polish dancer?

      <somewhat_seriously>

      I do think that a transit to CH would be a good move for everyone - RU, US, CH. I also think that he would be given pretty clear passage on a charter flight.

      From Switzerland the rest of the world is pretty open - but then it is also from RU with new papers, a bit of plastique surgery, etc.

      </>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, the CIA doesn't pay private contractors enough to pay their employees

      1/3 Million Dollars to play on a 'pu.

  12. sisk Silver badge

    Honestly I think most of the US government realizes there's more advantage to calling Snowden 'damage done' and washing their hands of the whole thing than creating an international incident in a misguided attempt to get him back.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Unfortunately, it's not 'most' that are in control.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And trying to walk away will probably not work. As soon as one rather embarrassing detail has been leaked and it's newsworthiness has fizzed, another leak shortly comes along.

        The US gov might ignore it, but depending on the scandal other governments - or well at least people around the world - might not ignore it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Unfortunately, it's not 'most' that are in control.

        Have you noticed how rarely Republicans get quoted in the British press? Murdoch at al really don't want you to know just how crazy their side really is.

        1. Otto is a bear.

          Re: Unfortunately, it's not 'most' that are in control.

          Oh, I think you can be sure that the British know just how crazy the Republicans are, what is the expression, "Crazier than a bag full of raccoons". Hell one thought my "Mom" was a Commie because she worked for the NHS, rather than the sedate redoubtable home counties lady she is.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Unfortunately, the calculation has more factors than that.

      Factor 1: the "intelligence community" in the US. This group is very, very pissed off at Snowden. And it's influential, because literally everyone from the president down depends on it to tell them what's going on. That's what it's there for.

      Factor 2: one has to assume, there are plenty more potential "whistleblowers" within that bloated, ill-policed community. First there was Bradley Manning, then Snowden - how many other embarrassments might come out, if you go soft on them?

      Manning, if you remember, was humiliated, dehumanised, subjected to the first "show trial" in the history of modern America, and eventually broken to the point where he actually changed sex, penitently begged the fatherland's forgiveness, and was shipped off to do 35 years in Leavenworth.

      Now that's a deterrent.

      Snowden has paid, but as yet he hasn't paid anything like enough to keep "the intelligence community" satisfied.

    3. rh587 Silver badge

      Really? Tell that to Gary McKinnon.

      Most of us - when someone pointed that we'd left the password blank on admin accounts network-wide - would have kept quiet and scampered off to do something about it (although we'd all like to think we'd have done a better job of it in the first place). Not the US though. They pursued extradition for a decade, claiming the damage to each terminal was exactly the value at which damage goes from civil to criminal charges. Convenient eh?

      "Most" of the government are not the ones in charge - and sadly the ones who are tend to be bull-headed non-specialists more concerned with being seen to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", and not willing to be seen to back down once they've got their teeth into something.

      Apparently admitting that the horse is flogged to death is a sign of weakness, presumably informed by that set of people who believe that you can flog it back to life and health again if you just carry on.

  13. Nuno trancoso

    All it takes is for that nice guy (cough) Mr. Putin to go along. You wouldn't open that can of worms during the worst part of Cold War nevermind right now.

    And all it takes if for him to even think that what Snowden has to say could throw a wrench into the EU/Nato "unified potential plans" about Ukraine.

    Heck, if what he has to say can even muddy the waters some, it's a great deal. Even when the whole EU agrees about something, it takes months to do anything. Throw a small dissent at it and it turns into "takes forever".

  14. bogomips
    Holmes

    Haha, why doesn't he just skype them?!

    am I the only guy here who's thinking this?

    why does he have to appear in person?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Perhaps they don't want the NSA to listen in?

  15. LucreLout Silver badge
    Facepalm

    ROFL

    Sorry, but some of the commentards posting about laws, fighter jets, invasions of canada etc are really funny.

    All that would happen, were the US to want Snowden, is that they'll apply diplomatic pressure behind the scenes to have the flight landed in a friendly country and Ed deplaned and extradited. If diplomatic pressure doesn't work, then money will. It's not like the Swiss don't have a history of persuing morally objectionable actions so long as they lead to profit.

    Snowden has basically 2 choices. Stay in Russia, or go back the the USA and stand trial. Trial will not end well for him, and at least Russia has Anna Chapman, vodka, and now, Big Macs.

    The question is, does the US actually want Snowden? I know they say they do, but said's no good mate. A public trial would be embarrassing and politically difficult, but withering away in commieland with ever fewer revelations and less and less relevance most probably works for the powers that be. I don't consider it coincidence that his passport got canned while in transit through Russia, I think leaving him stuck there was the intended outcome.

  16. Craig 2 Silver badge
    Joke

    So if Snowden can possibly gain immunity to extradition in any country that has a grudge against the US spying, he'd be free to travel most of the world eventually.

  17. Flakey

    Checking the map

    and assuming they fly in a straight(ish) line, Snowden would fly over Belarus,Poland, Czech Republic and Germany before Switzerland. With Russia's political and economic muscle I couldn't foresee Belarus,Poland and the Czech Rep making many objections so I reckon Germany would be the only problem. Be interesting to see how much clout Merkel has got, assuming she decides to use it..

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US would get a second, third & forth chance

    The US had already attempted to abduct/arrest Snowdon when he flew to Russia.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/03/ecuador_finds_hidden_mic_in_london_embassy/

    Doubt anything would of changed as far as the US and UK governments are concerned.

    Switzerland could deport Snowdon over an alleged of rape, terrorism or some other "higher state obligation". Switzerland would be a much easier country to find and abduct someone from when compared to Russia.

    If the case were to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely would he be able to get back to Russia? Trapped in a much smaller country surrounded by NATO countries with fewer escape options than Russia.

    This looks to be a really poor option, tactically.

  19. SavageNation

    Why does everyone love the NSA Domestic Spy?

    The guy is a Domestic Spy, which in the past was punishable by charges of Treason or Sedition.

    But because he narcd out the Feds and the USA the H8rs love him.

    It would be no different than the public liking a Ganster because he outed the Gang.

    He's still a Gangster people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why does everyone love the NSA Domestic Spy?

      If a government abuses power the individual has a legal/moral obligation to report these abuses. However these laws were severely watered down post-9/11.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_orders

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

      A keen sense of privacy also comes from WWII, with the Stasi monitoring communications of everyone.

  20. bpfh Silver badge

    Why fly?

    It's a 35-36 hour train trip, from Moscow to Zurich, with one train leaving every morning... All depends on how stringent passport control is on entering the EU that way... price, a cool 470 euros.

  21. Bernard M. Orwell
    Holmes

    I doubt it.

    "Master spook blabbermouth Edward Snowden should be granted safe passage to and from Switzerland if he testifies about surveillance, the country's attorney general has reportedly said."

    I doubt the attorney general called him that. At least, not openly.

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