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Could Switzerland grant Edward Snowden safe passage?

Switzerland’s Attorney General has raised the possibility that Edward Snowden could testify about NSA surveillance in Switzerland – and apply for asylum there – without fear of onward extradition to the United States.

The written legal opinion, seen by Swiss newspapers le Matin Dimanche and Sonntags Zeitung, states there is no legal impediment to Mr Snowden being granted Swiss asylum but leaves open the possibility of “higher state obligations” taking priority. While those “higher state obligations” are left undefined, this is – on the face of it – a rather more positive response than inquiries seeking Mr Snowden’s participation in person have received elsewhere.

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DNI/AG 702(g) Certification 2010-A

This 2010 certification from the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General asserts that procedures are in place to ensure foreign intelligence gathering stays within the boundaries of the law by targeting people “who are reasonably believed to be outside the United States.” The breadth of the authority is, however, very wide, allowing surveillance of communications “about” 193 countries and other entities specified in a separate document: see the Washington Post article Court gave NSA broad leeway in surveillance, documents show, 30 June 2014.

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