‘US threats’ either typical bullying or Berlin’s excuse not to give Snowden asylum

Annie Machon
Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, inter­na­tional tour and event organ­iser, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She is also now the Dir­ector of LEAP, Europe. She has a rare per­spect­ive both on the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments, intel­li­gence agen­cies and the media, as well as the wider implic­a­tions for the need for increased open­ness and account­ab­il­ity in both pub­lic and private sectors.
Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.(Reuters / Mark Blinch )
Washington’s threat to stop sharing intelligence with Berlin if it offers asylum to Snowden is either US bullying, or a convenient excuse on Berlin’s part to shift the blame for not allowing him to go onto the US, believes former MI5 agent Annie Machon.

“They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said earlier this week. Gabriel owned up that the US government had “aggressively threatened the Germans that if they did so, they would be ‘cut off' from all intelligence sharing’,” the Intercept report claims.

READ MORE: US aggressively threatened to 'cut off' Germany over Snowden asylum - report

RT:Isn’t it up to Germany to decide as a sovereign country who it does and does not let into its own country. Why does US think it can threaten Berlin like this?

Annie Machon: Well the US thinks it can threaten both countries. In fact they have a track record of doing this already with the UK, in trying to suppress evidence of torture in a high court case in the UK a few years ago. So if it is true, it’s a perfectly standard tactic that the US uses to diplomatically bully the countries that they want to break and bring to their heel.

Of course the other disingenuous approach from the Vice Chancellor might be that it did not actually happen, but he is saying it did, in order to shuffle off the blame for his party failure to provide justified asylum to Edward Snowden within Germany. Now he is part of the Social-Democratic Party, one of the ruling coalition parties. And they have come under increasing pressure domestically within Germany to try and give Snowden asylum.

So it is either a very legitimate bullying, or it is just a really convenient excuse to blame the US for a failure of policy in Germany.

RT:What is the word on the street, is it likely to happen? As you said this is coming from the opposition… is it likely to happen at the end of the day?

AM: I doubt very much that it will happen at the end of the day. And I have to say as well, that if I were Edward Snowden, I would be very wary of coming to any European country. I think Russia is one of the very few countries in the world that has the political will to give him asylum and refuge, but also has the physical means to physically protect him.

So even if Edward Snowden was guaranteed to be given political asylum in Germany, there is no guarantee whatsoever that CIA might not send in a snatch squad to extradite him, to sort of disappear him and put him on trial in the US.

RT:The former NSA chief said that Germany will never be allowed into that so-called ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance. It does tell you a bit more of what is going on behind the scenes here in relations between Germany and America at the moment – doesn't it?

AM: Yes it does. And it is rather shocking in a way if you think about it. Germany has bent over backwards trying to accommodate the demands of the NSA for the last few years, we know that from the Snowden disclosures, including developing such programs as the XKeyscore to take all the information in real time from electronic communications. And apparently the BND was reported recently to be hoovering up 220 million electronic communications per day.

RT:Why doesn’t US seem to trust Germany? Surely it would welcome Snowden going there, to be questioned at least on German soil.

AM: Well it would. And then of course you would have a situation where perhaps they did not threaten [Germany]. Perhaps this is just posturing by German politicians to get rid of the blame for not allowing Snowden to come. It is a very murky world. But yes, it would be to their advantage I think to get Snowden into Germany. It would be much easier for them to get their hands on him, than it is if he is in Russia where he has a save-heaven.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.