July 19, 2013
The journalist who published files leaked by fugitive U.S. leaker Edward Snowden says new reports from the data Snowden supplied would be more volatile.
Glenn Greenwald, who works for British newspaper The Guardian, said the reports from the cache of information Snowden took about the expansive National Security Agency cellphone and Internet surveillance programs would be “more explosive in Germany” than previous reports about cooperation between the NSA and German intelligence, Der Spiegel reported Friday.
During an interview with German public radio, Greenwald said Germany wasn’t working with the United States on the same level as Britain, Australia, Canada or New Zealand, but it was “sort of in the next tier where they exchange information all the time.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her stance on the U.S. spying affair, saying Washington needs more time to address the situation and she can’t force the United States to change its laws, EUobserver.com reported.
Faced with growing criticism that puts her popularity at risk ahead of her re-election bid Sept. 22, Merkel said “German law needs to be respected on German soil.”
The United States “asked for more time to look at all the questions we sent them. In this case, I think it’s better to wait than to get a declaration which turns out to be void,” she said.
She also said she can only demand that the United States respect German law while on German soil.
“I cannot tell them to adapt their laws to the German ones,” she said. “We are finding it difficult even in the EU to agree on data protection standards.”
Since The Guardian broke the story, additional reporting on the documents by Der Spiegel revealed how U.S. intelligence agencies spied on the European Union and a half-billion communications connections in Germany each month. Der Spiegel said the reports led to a political debate over how much the German government knew about the surveillance and whether it was cooperating with the United States.
Greenwald said he is in regular contact with Snowden using encrypted chat technologies.
Snowden, facing charges in the United States, “knew that the choice he was making … would submit him to serious risks and would make him the most wanted man in the world,” the reporter said.
But he said the fugitive former NSA contractor, holed up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport’s transit zone, was convinced “it was the right choice.”
Snowden is awaiting a decision on his application for temporary asylum in Russia.
Meanwhile, Spanish newspaper ABC said the United States has warned Venezuelan officials of dire consequences — including being barred from entering any NATO airspace — if it flies Snowden to the South American country.
The newspaper said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua Washington would end all sales of gasoline and other refined-oil products to Venezuela if Snowden is given refuge in that country.
Kerry made the statements during a phone call a week ago when he told Jaua Washington revoked U.S. visas of Venezuelan government officials and business leaders in retaliation for President Nicolas Maduro‘s asylum offer to Snowden last month, the Spanish report said, citing sources familiar with the conversation.
The State Department and the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the Spanish report.
Kerry’s threat to suspend gasoline shipments could cripple Venezuela’s daily activities, the newspaper said.
Venezuela, despite being the world’s No. 5 oil-exporting country, with the world’s largest heavy, crude oil reserve, does not have the capability to refine oil into gasoline and other fuels.
It sells crude at about $5 a barrel to U.S. companies that refine it and sell it back gasoline at the going rate of more than $100 a barrel.
Venezuela imports about 500,000 barrels of gasoline from the United States a month, along with 350,000 barrels of MTBE octane-boosting gasoline additives and other petroleum products, the Spanish newspaper said.