Former spy secrets leaker Edward Snowden has appealed to Washington to stop treating him like a traitor for revealing that the U.S. has eavesdropped on its allies, The New York Times reported
The former NSA contractor's appeal came in a letter carried to Berlin by lawyer and Green Party member Hans-Christian Ströbele, The Times reported.
In his letter, Snowden also appealed for clemency, saying his disclosures about American spying at home and abroad -- which he called “systematic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act” -- have had positive effects, The Times reported.
Yet “my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense,” Snowden wrote.
“However, speaking the truth is not a crime. I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behavior.”
After taking National Security Agency documents, Snowden fled to Hong Kong, where he turned some of the material over to a reporter for a British publication in what is a criminal act of espionage, the United States charges.
An extradition request has been lodged with Russia for his return to the U.S., but Russia has refused to abide by it.
Ströbele said he and two German reporters met with Snowden and someone described as his assistant — probably his British aide, Sarah Harrison, The Times said — at an undisclosed location in or near Moscow on Thursday for almost three hours.
Ströbele had gone to Moscow to see if Snowden could or would testify before a planned parliamentary inquiry into the eavesdropping.
At a news conference after his return to Berlin, Ströbele said he was contacted about going to Moscow late last week after the German government said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone might have been tapped by American intelligence agents.
He appealed to the governments and citizens of Germany, France and the United States to stop treating Snowden as a criminal -- and said Germany should thank Snowden.
Stroebele, who acted on his own in visiting Snowden, has opposed intelligence operations against terrorists and U.S. military endeavors worldwide. A lawyer, he defended the members of the German communist terrorist group Red Army Brigade, USA Today reported
Also on Thursday, American ambassador John Emerson tried to ease German fears the U.S. Embassy in Berlin was the center for monitoring Merkel and other well-placed Germans.
He was summoned to the German Foreign Ministry last week after Berlin’s suspicions about eavesdropping on Merkel were made public. The action was unprecedented in post-World War II relations between the United States and Germany, The Times noted.
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