The US-American lawyer Marjorie Cohn in an interview with Telepolis about the legal evaluation of the accusations against Edward Snowden
Marjorie Cohn is a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif. She chaired the National Lawyers Guild for several years after 2006 and has been involved with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers since 1978.
Ms. Cohn, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is currently doing everything it can to apprehend intelligence investigator Edward Snowden. What could Snowden expect in case of extradition from Russia to the USA?? Marjorie Cohn:In the USA Snowden would probably face prolonged solitary confinement. At least the case of the military Bradley Manning suggests that… …who has passed on secret information to the disclosure platform Wikileaks. Marjorie Cohn: The problem with this solitary confinement is that it is tantamount to torture, because sooner or later it can lead to hallucinations, catatonia and even suicide. It would be very difficult for Snowden to get a fair trial, given the political climate that the Obama administration has created regarding whistleblowers. After Snowden fled the U.S., there have been numerous threats from the U.S. side against China and Russia that have helped the 30-year-old. What do you think about this policy of the U.S. leadership?? Marjorie Cohn: According to Michael Ratner, attorney for Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, the Obama administration is putting massive prere on countries around the world to extradite Snowden. He is to be returned to the reach of the U.S. at any cost. In the opinion of the White House, the decision of the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong to let Snowden leave the country was a mistake, "A preemptive decision by the government to release a wanted fugitive regardless of a valid arrest warrant". The decision will undoubtedly have a negative impact on U.S.-China relations, it was suggested. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Russia, "doing the right thing", So refusing to allow Snowden to leave the country and extraditing him to the U.S. for prosecution. This, he said, is important in light of Washington-Moscow relations, applicable law and its standards. All this has one goal: to send a clear message to potential copycats that the possible disclosure of secret data would have dire consequences for other whistleblowers. Already, the Obama administration is cracking down on secrecy-deprivers in an unprecedented way. It has ied indictments against eight people on the basis of the Espionage Act. That’s twice as many corresponding indictments under this administration than under all previous administrations combined. But the real question is: Was Hong Kong obliged to extradite Snowden?? Must Russia extradite him? Marjorie Cohn: China and the USA have not yet concluded an extradition treaty. The USA has not signed such a treaty with Russia either. However, seven Russian prisoners have been handed over to Moscow in recent years. Any country can refuse extradition if the person faces political trial. Snowden was accused of espionage in the U.S. Such an indictment is virtually the prototype of a political offence. According to this, the Russian authorities can actually refuse to extradite the wanted man. In such extradition disputes, the argument that the wanted person would be subjected to torture in the target country is always put forward. Does this also play a role in the Snowden case?? Marjorie Cohn: The United Nations Convention against Torture prescribes the principle of non-refoulement when a fugitive is reasonably believed to be at risk of being subjected to torture in his or her country of origin. Since Bradley Manning was the other prominent whistleblower to be tortured through nine months of solitary confinement, it is reasonable to ame that Edward Snowden would suffer a similar fate. Based on this consideration, any country can refuse to extradite him. What’s more, every country is obliged to stand in the way of extradition if it would violate fundamental rights. Not to be tortured and not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is such a fundamental right. On the basis of the UN Refugee Convention, China or Russia could grant Snowden asylum if he could credibly show that he had to fear persecution in the USA for political reasons. He should probably succeed. The 1996 Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information state: "No person may be punished for reasons of protecting national security following the disclosure of information, provided that the public interest in that information outweighs the harm from its disclosure."
So Snowden should be hailed as a hero
Edward Snowden, however, is charged with espionage. How do you evaluate this accusation by the U.S. leadership? Marjorie Cohn: In order to prove this charge, the prosecution had to charge Edward Snowden under section 793(d) of the U.S. Espionage Act, thereby proving that he was not entitled to access to "National defense information" Reach out. In this context, there have been accusations that the information released by Snowden favors terrorist attacks on the United States. Senators like Mark Udall or Ron Wyden, who have been members of the Intelligence Committee of the US Senate for many years, have credibly refuted these theses. Both of them had a long time insight into the relevant documents in the Senate committee. Under Section 798(a)(3) of the U.S. Espionage Act, the prosecution had to prove that the defendant intentionally disclosed classified information to unauthorized third parties. That would probably be an easier undertaking. Edward Snowden was accused by conservatives in the USA of having planned the disclosures for a long time. German media also repeated the accusation that he was more of an ice-cold calculating tactician than a hero. Their opinion? Marjorie Cohn: Snowden has done a great service to the people of the United States and around the world by exposing a massive and wide-ranging surveillance program that threatens our privacy rights. Senators Udall and Wyden mentioned an important point in this context: Targeted intelligence collection is needed to prevent terrorist attacks. Mass surveillance of telephone calls, movement profiles and Internet data of the population does not serve this purpose. So Snowden should be celebrated as a hero. (Harald Neuber)