| Snowden aide Harrison takes refuge in Berlin!

Snowden aide Harrison takes refuge in Berlin ~ Deutsche Welle.

After helping US whistleblower Edward Snowden attain asylum in Russia, British journalist Sarah Harrison has left Moscow. Harrison has taken refuge in Berlin, out of concern she could be detained in the UK.

Die britischen Journalistin und Wikileaks-Aktivistin Sarah Harrison spricht am 21.06.2012 vor der Botschaft von Ecuador in London, in der WikiLeaks Gründer Assange geflüchtet war, zur Presse. Bei seinem Flug von Hongkong nach Moskau wurde der ehemalige US-Geheimdienstler Edward Snowden von Harrison begleitet. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (zu dpa: «'Whistleblower' Snowden beschert Wikileaks ein Comeback»9

National security leakers lead a precarious existence these days. Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over a year now, unable to leave for fear of being arrested by British authorities and extradited to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation. Assange believes that going to Sweden would be the first step in his extradition to the US and an eventual trial there.

Meanwhile, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is under constant guard in Moscow after having received temporary asylum in Russia. For now, at least, Snowden has managed to avoid the fate that befell Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who was convicted on espionage charges and sentenced in June to 35 years in prison for leaking 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

Snowden’s good fortune is largely due to British journalist Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks researcher who helped the former NSA contractor escape the long arm of the US Justice Department. Having assisted one of the US government’s top public enemies, she has now taken refuge in Berlin, reticent to return to her native England for fear of being detained by authorities under the UK Terrorism Act.

On Wednesday, Harrison published a letter calling for whistle-blowers to be shielded from prosecution, saying that “giving us the truth is not a crime.”

“Wikileaks continues to fight for the protection of sources,” Harrison wrote. “We have won the battle for Snowden’s immediate future, but the broader war continues.”

‘Snowden is safe and protected’

Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden and Sarah Harrison (L) of WikiLeaks speak to human rights representatives in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport July 12, 2013. Snowden is seeking temporary asylum in Russia and plans to go to Latin America eventually, an organisation endorsed by anti-secrecy group Wikileaks said on Twitter on Friday. REUTERS/Human Rights Watch/Handout (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) NO COMMERCIAL OR BOOK SALES. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Harrison accompanied Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow

When Snowden first fled to Hong Kong after leaking his trove of NSA documents to US journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, Harrison flew to China at the behest of Wikileaks to help secure the whistle-blower’s safe passage and prevent his extradition to the US.

While not a lawyer by trade, she had acquired expertise on extradition matters through the case of Assange with whom she both worked and had been romantically involved.

“I’m sure that if Julian hadn’t been grounded at the embassy in London, he would have loved to have done it himself,” Jeremie Zimmermann told DW, referring to Snowden’s successful asylum application in Russia.

Zimmermann is the spokesman and co-founder of the digital rights group La Quadrature du Net in France. He was a contributor to Assange’s 2012 book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” and knows Harrison.

“I’m sure after [Assange], Sarah was the most competent,” he continued. “She’s a brilliant journalist and researcher and a brilliant person in general.”

Although Harrison didn’t elaborate on why, exactly, she left Russia, she did write that the job of securing Snowden had been completed.

“Whilst Snowden is safe and protected until his asylum visa is due to be renewed in nine months time, there is still much work to be done,” Harrison said. “The battle Snowden joined against the surveillance state and for government transparency is one that Wikileaks – and many others – have been fighting, and will continue to fight.”

Exile in Berlin

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands with Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino (R) at Ecuador's embassy in central London June 16, 2013. Assange sought asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2012, in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA CRIME LAW)Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Harrison has joined a growing colony in Berlin of transparency-advocates-in-exile. Poitras, who has reported on the Snowden leaks for the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, and hacker and Wikileaks supporter Jacob Appelbaum, both reside in the German capital.

“Already in the few days I have spent in Germany, it is heartening to see the people joining together and calling for their government to do what must be done – to investigate NSA spying revelations and to offer Edward Snowden asylum,” Harrison wrote in her letter.

The outcry in Germany has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. Reports from the summer about the NSA collecting millions of Germans’ metadata have now been compounded by the revelation that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was also allegedly hacked.

“Berlin seems to be the place of choice right now if you consider the vibrant character of the public debate here, and I’m referring to the last two front pages of Der Spiegel that sounded quite serious about it,” Zimmermann said. In a recent Der Spiegel issue, the news magazine published reports based on Snowden’s leaks, detailing possible NSA eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone. The publication has also called for Snowden to be granted asylum.

Fear of UK Terrorism Act

The daughter of a middle class British family, Harrison’s father is a former executive at a clothing retailer and her mother works with children who have learning difficulties. After studying English literature at Queen Mary, she took a job as an international event manager, but ultimately decided to pursue journalism.

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013. British authorities used anti-terrorism powers on Sunday to detain Miranda, the partner of Greenwald, who has close links to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who has been granted asylum by Russia, as he passed through London's Heathrow airport. The 28-year-old Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of Greenwald who writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, a report on the Guardian website said. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY MEDIA)
Greenwald’s boyfriend was held for nine hours under the terrorism act

Harrison received an internship with the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London in 2009 and landed a junior research position at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2010. Through her work at the bureau, she came into contact with Assange and later began working for Wikileaks as a researcher.

Taking the advice of legal advisers, Harrison has decided to stay in Germany, for fear of being detained in her native England under the UK Terrorism Act. In August, Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend, David Miranda, was detained under the act for nine hours at London’s Heathrow Airport. Miranda had been on his way from Berlin back to Brazil – where he and Greenwald live – having transported materials between the Guardian journalist and Poitras.

Under the Terrorism Act, police can detain and question an individual in order to determine whether or not they are a “terrorist.” According to Harrison and other transparency activists, by detaining Miranda, London effectively defined national security reporting as “terrorism.”

“The problem is she’s now part of this net of suspicion,” Zimmerman said.

“It is likely that she would be suspected of the same kind of nonsensical charges if she even stepped foot here,” he continued. “So in a way, until further notice, she might be constrained to exile, the same way that Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras, [and] Appelbaum are today.”



| Angela Merkel’s call to Obama: Are you bugging my mobile phone?

Angela Merkel’s call to Obama: are you bugging my mobile phone? ~

Germany sees credible evidence of US monitoring of chancellor as NSA surveillance row intensifies.
*Live coverage of reaction to reports of Merkel surveillance.

The furore over the scale of American mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden shifted to an incendiary new level on Wednesday evening when Angela Merkel of Germany called Barack Obama to demand explanations over reports that the US National Security Agency was monitoring her mobile phone.

Merkel was said by informed sources in Germany to be “livid” over the reports and convinced, on the basis of a German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated.

The German news weekly, Der Spiegel, reported an investigation by German intelligence, prompted by research from the magazine, that produced plausible information that Merkel’s mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency. The German chancellor found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification.

The outrage in Berlin came days after President François Hollande of France also called the White House to confront Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people.

While European leaders have generally been keen to play down the impact of the whistleblowing disclosures in recent months, events in the EU’s two biggest countries this week threatened an upward spiral of lack of trust in transatlantic relations.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that Merkel upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions on the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.

Merkel told Obama that “she unmistakably disapproves of and views as completely unacceptable such practices, if the indications are authenticated,” Seifert said. “This would be a serious breach of confidence. Such practices have to be halted immediately.”

The sharpness of the German complaint direct to an American president strongly suggested that Berlin had no doubt about the grounds for protest. Seibert voiced irritation that the Germans had waited for months for proper answers from Washington to Berlin on the NSA operations.

Merkel told Obama she expected the Americans “to supply information over the possible scale of such eavesdropping practices against Germany and reply to questions that the federal government asked months ago”, Seibert said.

The White House responded that Merkel’s mobile is not being tapped. “The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” said a statement from Jay Carney, the White House spokesman.

But Berlin promptly signalled that the rebuttal referred to the present and the future and did not deny that Merkel’s communications had been monitored in the past.

Asked by the Guardian if the US had monitored the German chancellor’s phone in the past, a top White House official declined to deny that it had.

Caitlin Hayden, the White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman, said: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”

Obama and Merkel, the White House said, “agreed to intensify further the co-operation between our intelligence services with the goal of protecting the security of both countries and of our partners, as well as protecting the privacy of our citizens.”

The explosive new row came on the eve of an EU summit in Brussels opening on Thursday afternoon. Following reports by Le Monde this week about the huge scale of US surveillance of France, Hollande insisted that the issue be raised at a summit which, by coincidence, is largely devoted to the “digital” economy in Europe. Hollande also phoned Obama to protest and insist on a full explanation, but received only the stock US response that the Americans were examining their intelligence practices and seeking to balance security and privacy imperatives, according to the Elysee Palace.

The French demand for a summit debate had gained little traction in Europe. On Wednesday morning, briefing privately on the business of the summit, senior German officials made minimal mention of the surveillance scandal. But by Wednesday evening that had shifted radically. The Germans publicly insisted that the activities of the US intelligence services in Europe be put on a new legal basis.

“The [German] federal government, as a close ally and partner of the USA, expects in the future a clear contractual basis for the activity of the services and their cooperation,” Merkel told Obama.

In 2009, it was reported that Merkel had fitted her phone with an encryption chip to stop it being bugged. As many as 5,250 other ministers, advisers and important civil servants were supplied with similar state-of-the-art encryption technology. Merkel is known to be a keen mobile user and has been nicknamed “die Handy-Kanzlerin” (“Handy” being the German word for mobile phone).

When asked how he had communicated with Merkel during an EU summit in Brussels in 2008, then French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: “We call each other’s mobiles and write text messages.”

Katrin Goring-Eckhart, parliamentary leader of the Greens, said: “If these allegations turn out to be true, we are dealing with an incredible scandal and an unprecedented breach of trust between the two countries, for which there can be no justification.”

On social media, a number of Germans mocked Merkel’s change of tone over the NSA affair, given her previous reluctance to talk about the controversy. Jens König, a reporter for the news weekly Stern, tweeted that it was “the first time that Merkel is showing some proper passion during the NSA affair”.

The European Commission has thrown its weight behind new European Parliament proposals for rules governing the transfer of data from Europe to America and demanded that the forthcoming summit finalise the new regime by next spring.

*Link to video: Obama assures Merkel her phone will not be monitored, says White House





| Germany ready to charge UK and US intelligence over alleged bugging operations!

Germany ready to charge UK and US intelligence over alleged bugging operations ~ TONY PATERSON IN BERLIN, Belfast Telegraph.

Germany is preparing to bring charges against US and British intelligence amid fresh allegations that the services spied far more extensively than thought on German phone and internet traffic and bugged European Union offices in America.

A report alleging a major and continuous US National Security Agency spying operation in Germany was published by Der Spiegel magazine yesterday, prompting outrage from Berlin MPs still reeling from reports about extensive British surveillance in their country.

The German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenburger, demanded an immediate explanation and said the behaviour of the intelligence services was “reminiscent of the actions against enemies during the Cold War”. “It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies,” she said.

The leak, which Der Spiegel said came from fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden, claimed that the NSA tapped into half a billion German phone calls, emails and SMS messages each month. Reports last week revealed extensive tapping of German phone and internet traffic by British intelligence under its so-called Tempora programme. The information was said to be shared with the NSA.

A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor said the office was preparing to bring charges against “persons unknown” in relation to the reports.

There was also widespread and mounting anger at official European Unionlevel yesterday following disclosures that the NSA had spied on EU computer networks at its offices in New York and Washington and that it had also bugged the premises. Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, demanded “full clarification” from the US and said that if the disclosures proved true they would have a severe impact on US-EU ties.

It also emerged that the UK Government had invited German MPs and justice officials to attend a video conference at British Embassy in Berlin today during which the issue of spying would be addressed.

Der Spiegel said the NSA’s German phone and internet surveillance operation was the biggest in the EU. On  7 January 2013 it tapped into some 60 million German phone calls in a single day.

The magazine said that CanadaAustraliaBritain and New Zealand were exempt from NSA surveillance but Germany was regarded as a country open for “spy attacks”.


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| Eurozone blues: Germany fears revolution if Europe scraps welfare model!

Germany fears revolution if Europe scraps welfare model ~ Ingrid Melander and Nicholas Vinocur, PARIS.

(Reuters) – German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned on Tuesday that failure to win the battle against youth unemployment could tear Europe apart, and dropping the continent’s welfare model in favor of tougher U.S. standards would spark a revolution.

Germany, along with France, Spain and Italy, backed urgent action to rescue a generation of young Europeans who fear they will not find jobs, with youth unemployment in the EU standing at nearly one in four, more than twice the adult rate.

“We need to be more successful in our fight against youth unemployment, otherwise we will lose the battle for Europe’s unity,” Germany’s Schaeuble said.

While Germany insists on the importance of budget consolidation, Schaeuble spoke of the need to preserve Europe’s welfare model.

If U.S. welfare standards were introduced in Europe, “we would have revolution, not tomorrow, but on the very same day,” Schaeuble told a conference in Paris.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, where youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe, called for the euro zone to triple aid to small businesses and allow governments to subsidize the hiring of younger workers without sanctions for overspending.

In recent weeks Germany, wary of a backlash as many in crisis-hit European countries blame it for austerity, has taken steps to tackle unemployment in the bloc, striking bilateral deals with Spain and Portugal.

“We have to rescue an entire generation of young people who are scared. We have the best-educated generation and we are putting them on hold. This is not acceptable,” Italian Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini said.

Rajoy said both the European Investment Bank and European Central Bank should do more to help credit flow to small firms.

Small and medium-sized companies in Spain and much of southern Europe pay much higher rates for loans than their counterparts in the north. Youth unemployment in Spain is above 57 percent as layoffs continue in a deep recession.

“With all respect for its independence, I believe the ECB can and should do more,” Rajoy said in a speech at the end of the conference, also saying funds channeled to small firms via the EIB should be boosted to 30 billion euros ($38 billion) a year.

He called for “some kind of common European debt” and said Europe should temporarily exclude social security subsidies for youth hiring from its calculation of member states’ budget deficits, a proposal that will likely meet resistance.

German ECB board member Joerg Asmussen said on Monday it would be a mistake to “tinker with the growth pact” to ignore certain investments for budget deficit calculations, as favored by some in the EU who want public investment excluded to help them meet fiscal targets.


Aside from Rajoy’s proposals, ministers offered few concrete plans, insisting Europe must be pragmatic and work on various strands. Schaeuble said this was why Germany had also decided to strike deals with countries such as Spain and Greece.

“Let’s be honest. There is no quick fix. There is no grand plan,” said Werner Hoyer, head the European Investment Bank.

German ministers said Europe must continue on the path of structural reforms to boost its competitiveness as well as make good use of available EU funds, including 6 billion euros that leaders have set aside for youth employment for 2014-20.

The youth employment crisis will be a central theme of a June EU leaders’ summit, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited EU labour ministers to a conference in Berlin on July 3.

In March 2013, nearly 40 percent of under-25-year-olds in Portugal were jobless, and in Greeceyouth unemployment shot to a record 64 percent in February, while it was below 8 percent for Germany and Austria.

Following up on an idea aired earlier this month, French President Francois Hollande urged the euro zone to work towards a joint economic government with its own budget that could take on specific projects including tackling youth unemployment.

(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Madrid; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Giles Elgood and Will Waterman)


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| World From Berlin: Neo-Nazi Killings ‘A Poisoned Thorn’ in Germany’s Side!

The World From Berlin: Neo-Nazi Killings ‘A Poisoned Thorn’ in Germany’s Side  ~ Spiegel Online International.

"The problem is called racism" says the banner in Berlin where some 1,600 people marched to commemorate the victims of the NSU. Zoom

“The problem is called racism” says the banner in Berlin where some 1,600 people marched to commemorate the victims of the NSU.

One year after German authorities accidentally discovered that neo-Nazi terrorists were behind the shootings of 10 mainly Turkish immigrants between 2000 and 2007, media commentators say the country doesn’t just need to revamp its security services — it needs to combat widespread racism.

Anti-racism campaigners staged vigils across Germany on Sunday to commemorate the victims of the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi terrorist group uncovered by chance a year ago.

Organizers called memorial events in 30 cities. In Hamburg, some 1,000 people joined a march. In Berlin, some 1,600 people turned out.

The NSU claimed responsilbility for killing at least nine men and a policewoman during a seven-year murder spree that began in 2000. The male victims, all of them shopkeepers or employed in small businesses, belonged to ethnic minorities — eight were of Turkish origin and one was Greek.

For years, police failed to investigate a possible far-right link between the killings, which were carried out with the same pistol in cities across Germany. Instead, they focused on possible links between the victims and criminal gangs.

They were proven dramatically wrong when two fugitive neo-Nazis were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide on Nov. 4, 2011. The third alleged core member of the group, Beate Zschäpe, remains in custody pending trial.

German media commentators note that the demonstrations were quite small, and some say the reforms of the domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, don’t go far enough. What Germany needs, some say, is a nationwide campaign against the racism at the heart not only of the killings, but also of the authorities’ abject failure to investigate them properly.

The first anniversary of the killings dominates the editorial pages at a number of Germany’s leading newspapers on Monday.

The conservative Die Welt writes:

“Is the way that this country and its public authorities deal with neo-Nazis too lax? Are authorities blind to the threat of the far right? Do the lives of immigrants count less? The most recent disclosures about police officers who support the Ku-Klux-Klan or right-wing extremist informants shielded from prosecution by the domestic intelligence agency are unacceptable. How come neither the police nor the security authorities have commented on this?”

“The relatives of the victims, who are often ignored in a society which focuses on the perpetrators, have high hopes for the trial of Beate Zscäpe. But will this yearning for truth and respect for the dead victims be fulfilled? Those defending the plaintiffs worry about their clients, because the Federal Court of Justice has sent a clear signal that it won’t be possible to answer all the questions the relatives are asking at the trial.”

“The NSU deaths sit like a poisoned thorn in the side of our recent history. But why doesn’t it hurt?”

The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:

“The weekend demonstrations in several cities across Germany in memory of the murder spree by three young neo-Nazis from Thuringia were rather dutiful and modest. Some might ask why this scandal didn’t bring more people out onto the streets. … Several parliamentary enquiries are underway into how the killings could happen. And Angela Merkel made clear with the state memorial service in February that she takes the NSU murders seriously. That is why many citizens, including many immigrants, don’t see a reason for big demonstrations.”

“But a year on from the revelation of the Nazi terror the question of what action should be taken in response to the blatant failure of the authorities in the NSU affair is at risk of being obscured by technical minutiae.”

“A complete rethink and reorganization of the domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, is overdue. There are serious questions regarding the police as well, given that they spent years investigating in the wrong direction. It’s obvious that their approach to the NSU murders was full of prejudice.”

“A change in mentality in these authorities is the very least that is needed now. A quota for immigrants in the police, as suggested by the head of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, Jörg Ziercke, could be of benefit. But such steps won’t happen without public pressure, for example through street protests.”

The business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“One year after the discovery of the far-right terror trio NSU, the (far right) National Democratic Party (NPD) wants to march in Heidelberg, demonstrate in Dresden, stage a torch-lit march in Wolgast against asylum seekers. One year on from the discovery, ordinary people are threatened for daring to stand up against right-wing extremism. One year after the discovery it takes an appeals court to make clear that police must not spot-check people just because they look like foreigners. In the first half of 2012, government figures showed there were 8,096 politically motivated far-right crimes, including 354 assaults, and 1,691 were labelled ‘hate crimes.'”

“Thanks to the work of the parliamentary enquiries, only one thing is clear after these 12 months: one doesn’t just encounter this racism on the street in the evenings, in areas where local officials are unable to get the extremists under control or at far-right concerts. Instead, it is also deeply embedded in the security authorities that didn’t see or didn’t want to see the far-right extremists in the years they spent looking for the perpetrators. It was deeply embedded in the media that described the murders as ‘döner killings.’ It is part of our thinking.”

“It’s high time that changed. But it won’t be changed by reforming the security authorities as Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is doing. That’s important, especially for the relatives of the victims who rightly want an explanation of how authorities could fail like that. But it won’t help them if the father, the brother, the daughter look for an apartment or an apprenticeship — and find nothing because they have Turkish names. It won’t help against being attacked at night in the street.”

“Neither will these reforms help counter the fact that entire regions are out of bounds as places for dark-skinned people to live and work because right-wing extremists claim to rule those areas.”

“And as important as the initiatives against the far right are may be, backed by a few meager millions of euros — they won’t eliminate racism. That will only happen if this country commits itself to its foreigners. It is time that every public opportunity is seized, in political party manifestos and coalition agreements, in regional and municipal council decisions, to make clear: We are a country of immigration, we have long since become multinational, foreigners belong here. We don’t just need them, we want them.”

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“Are the police and intelligence agents the latent enemies of the constitution? That question reflects a radical mistrust of Germany’s ‘security architecture’ that may base itself on studies of the supposed affinity many investigators have for far-right thinking, but which is wildly exaggerated.”

The paper writes that the police and members of the domestic intelligence agency mustn’t be subjected to an “absurd blanket suspicion.”

“How should ordinary people, immigrants and the victims of the state’s failures regain confidence in the system when it has been hammered into them that the German police force is a latently racist institution?”

— David Crossland and Renuka Rayasam


Countries must boost measures to combat Internet racism – UN independent expert ~ UN News Centre.