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John Weeks: European Parliament’s invitation for Snowden to testify highlights the impact he’s made unveiling the national surveillance state

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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: This is The Real News, and I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

The European Parliament has formally invited NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to testify in light of his revelations of widespread spying by the world’s international spy agencies.

Here’s a clip of a recent interview he presented.


NOOR: Now joining us to discuss this is John Weeks. He’s a professor emeritus and senior researcher at the Center for Development Policy and Research, and Research on Money and Finance Group, at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Thank you so much for joining us, Professor Weeks.

JOHN WEEKS, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIV. OF LONDON: Thank you for inviting me. I’m very pleased to be here.

NOOR: So, Professor Weeks, Edward Snowden hasn’t decided if he will accept the European Parliament’s invitation. The United States has urged Europe to rescind this invitation. And one British member of the European Union Parliament says that he should not testify, that he has in fact endangered lives. Give us your response.

WEEKS: Well, first of all, I think that Edward Snowden is a great U.S. patriot. I think that it’s an understatement to call him a whistleblower. He’s more than that. He is a person, at considerable cost to himself, has reported crimes being carried out by the government. So I would say that’s the first point to make.

And I think many people in Europe, many politicians in Europe recognize that. And I think that that is why the European Parliament invited him to speak. We’re talking about here a parliament that includes representatives from 27 different countries. And they have formally extended an invitation for him to speak.

The shocking thing about this is that it would be difficult, if not extremely dangerous, for him to come and testify in person.

NOOR: Of course, ’cause he’s currently–he has temporary asylum in Russia, so he can’t physically–if he physically tried to get to Europe, he likely would be intercepted by U.S. forces.

WEEKS: Well, yes. I mean, I think that what some of us here–and I have contacts with some progressive British members of Parliament and one progressive member, British member of Labour–from the Labour Party of the European Parliament. If European Parliament were to grant him immunity from prosecution, he would have no difficulty entering Britain, because Russia has a border with several European Union countries.

But that would require the European Parliament to take a very major step. It’s enough of a affront to the United States to invite this great American patriot, which he is. It would be even more of an insult to the United States–a well-deserved insult–to grant him immunity from any type of prosecution or extradition. I very much hope they do that.

I think that the reason that this was extended, this invitation was extended: progressives and liberals and libertarians are concerned about the question of spying on people’s individual activities, you know, people who have committed no offense. And so they’re concerned about that. I think there are also–there are many conservatives who are concerned about human rights and believe that we ought to have due process of law, that you shouldn’t go around snooping on people unless you have some reason to do so. So I think that there’s quite a broad coalition in the European Union, and certainly in Britain, that supports what Snowden did.

And I get the feeling that there is some movement in the White House about this, but I think not enough to warrant Snowden taking any chances about it. He could not be extradited from Europe because of the European Union regulations, but the U.S. can make his life very unpleasant.

NOOR: Thank you so much for joining us.

WEEKS: Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure.

NOOR: You can follow us @therealnews on Twitter, Tweet me questions and comments @jaisalnoor.

Thank you so much for joining us.


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John Weeks is Professor Emeritus and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Development Policy and Research, and Research on Money and Finance Group at the School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London.