Snowden’s ‘Financial and Legal Teams’

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Millions around the world support Edward Snowden for revealing secret information about NSA surveillance activities.

But in his quest to continue to expose such information and to stay one step ahead of U.S. authorities who want to bring him home to face the justice system, Snowden needs more than just moral and emotional support.

First, he needs financial support.

Just the cost of a direct charter flight to take him from his Moscow International Airport transit-lounge quarters to Havana — en-route to possible asylum in Venezuela — or directly to Caracas itself, would cost $100,000 for starters.

It has been reported that a chartered aircraft had been made available and put on standby to fly Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow. Snowden eventually flew to Moscow on a regular Aeroflot flight.


According to Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson
, an Iceland-based WikiLeaks representative, such a charter was made possible “through outside funds from ‘friends.’”

Wikileaks — the group that published classified diplomatic and military documents obtained by U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in 2010 — seems to be one of the main financial, legal and logistical supporters of Snowden. Its founder, Julian Assange, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition, himself the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. and subject to a European arrest warrant in response to a Swedish police request for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation.

Donations to Wikileaks surged “to 1,000 euros ($1,285) a day” after Snowden stepped forward as the source of the NSA surveillance leaks.

However, they have since dropped to about 100 Euros ($128.50) a day, but are still about three times the rate before Snowden’s appearance on the leakers’ scene.

As to the legal team, the BBC has an interesting list of the “eclectic bunch” Snowden is getting advice and support from, “ranging from a constitutional lawyer to a former Russian spy.”

Some of these:

Way at the top, the previously mentioned Julian Assange, who “provides advice and support” and who says:

“He [Snowden] is a hero. He has told the people of the world and the US that there is mass unlawful interception of their communications, far beyond anything that happened under Nixon.”

** Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and also a lawyer for Snowden’s father.

Fein lives in Washington DC, was associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan and senior policy adviser to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign

In Fein’s own words: “The purpose of engaging me wasn’t simply to have his son come back. It was also, ‘What can we do to walk away from the precipice of a leviathan state where nothing is private anymore and which operates in the kind of secrecy we associated with China or Russia?’”

** Sarah Harrison, member of the Wikileaks legal team. She provides advice on where to seek asylum — a full-time job lately.

“Where she can be found: The transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport.”

Michael Ratner, a New York lawyer for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He is president emeritus for Center for Constitutional Rights, which has assisted in the cases of Guantanamo detainees and sued Bush administration officials over interrogation policies.

In Ratner’s own words (about the prosecution of Pte [sic] First Class Bradley Manning): ‘It’s ironic in a trial that is about the government keeping secrets that they aren’t providing documents that are not classified and should be public.’”

A name I immediately recognized and a person I have a lot of respect for is Baltasar Garzón.

Judge Baltasar Garzón was one of Europe’s best-known counter-terrorism magistrates, “renowned for his determination and his abilities to bring suspects to justice, no matter how powerful or where they may be — and especially for terrorism and human rights abuses.”

His targets have included the al-Qaeda 9/11 and Madrid bombings perpetrators, the infamous Chilean General Pinochet, ETA and related Basque terrorist organizations, Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations operating in the Maghreb region, including Spanish enclaves in Morocco, Argentine ex-naval officer Adolfo Scilingo who was convicted of crimes against humanity and others.

Back in March 2009, when a Spanish court took the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations that six former high-level Bush administration officials violated international law by providing the legal framework to justify the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the case was sent to Judge Baltasar Garzón for review.

But then, in January 2012, Judge Garzón himself came “under legal attack for confronting Spain’s own dark history.” The New York Times reported then:

He is on trial this week before the Spanish Supreme Court for daring to investigate crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and the nearly four-decade dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. The case against him is fueled by domestic political vendettas rather than substantive legal arguments and it could dramatically set back international efforts to hold human-rights violators accountable for their crimes.

The case stemmed from Judge Garzón’s edict, in October 2008, ordering the exhumation of 19 mass graves and charging Franco and his accomplices posthumously with the murder and disappearance of more than 114,000 people.

In February 2012 the Spanish Supreme Court found Mr. Garzón guilty of abuse of power for illegally ordering a wiretap of lawyers in a corruption case and suspended him for 11 years. A couple of weeks later the same Supreme Court cleared him of ” having abused his powers by investigating atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship of Francisco Franco.”

In July 2012 WikiLeaks said that it had hired Baltasar Garzón to lead the legal team representing the site and its founder, Julian.

Today, Judge Garzón is the legal director at Wikileaks who, while “declining to serve officially as his lawyer…has nevertheless helped to shape his plans for the future.”

In Garzón’s own words: “The Wikileaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr. Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person.”

The BBC article concludes:

These legal experts and activists are not the only ones who are trying to help Snowden. He has also received an outpouring of support from people around the world.

One supporter, Anna Chapman, the spy who was caught in the US and sent back to Russia, expressed her admiration on Twitter.

“Snowden, will you marry me?” she wrote.

Read more here

Image: www.shutterstock.com

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

9 Comments

  1. I have mixed feelings about Snowden. One is about an interesting cat and mouse game that is intriguing. But on a more serious side, if Snowden where to make it to Venezuela he would have a platform that would help those opposed to the US. They could use him as part of their propaganda messages for years and years.

  2. I’ve been reading this blog for a few years. I don’t comment much but this Snowden thing bothers me in the things that are Not being talked about.

    Whenever someone signs up for internet access, email account, new phone, or any piece of software you must sign either a “privacy policy” of an EULA(End User Licensing Agreement). 99% of people just say “Yeah whatever, just give me my phone”. But, detailed in those privacy policies and EULA agreements is a long nauseating list of things all of these corporations are going to collect on you and then use or sell to anyone willing to pay. Where is the outrage at these facts? (The vast data-mining networks that exist solely for profit outside these corporations is a whole other topic)

    Next. This kind of data collection has been going on since the moment the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Bill came into existence(2 other documents 99% of people, and congress, didn’t read). The first time it was outed was in 2003 when the former Admiral/Felon John Poindexter(remember him?) was caught doing pretty much the exact same thing.

    Now to Snowden himself. I firmly believe that he took that job for the very purpose of outing this program. That tells me that this is more about him than the information he leaked out. As a 20+ year systems administrator, who has worked for a number of large corporations, I can say with some conviction that in a 3 month period of time you can get a pretty good idea of how your own little world works. There is no way in that period of time could he gain Any real understanding of the vast NSA network functions. This above all makes a number of his claims dubious on its face.

    Thoughts?

  3. Enjoy your insight, moonlitnight. Hope you comment more often.

  4. He seems to have some pretty reputable people in his corner at the moment. Now all he needs is money and some really good legal and common sense advice about returning to the states, which is not very appealing or permanently living abroad, which looks less appealing all the time.

  5. I suspect he must have gained some pretty good info moonlitknight, or they (our govt.)wouldn’t be boarding private jets in a searching frenzy and calling in their markers for foreign countries to not give him asylum. :)

  6. I agree with moonlitknight after only three months how much could he really know, especially in an organization like the NSA where I suspect things are highly compartmentalized and you have access to only what’s needed to do your job. It makes his claims dubious, frankly I haven’t seen anything to specific information he has. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it but it still makes him suspect. Maybe the government is pursuing so hard to find out for themselves what he has. Could this really just be a big publicity stunt to gain fame and notoriety for Norton? Time will tell.

  7. @Will
    To give an example I will offer the claim of real or near real time access to phone and internet access. Phone and internet access companies will only offer specific information listed in the language of the FISA warrant. They will offer that information, as I understand it, in the form of a Secure(encrypted) FTP(File Transfer protocol) connection. This type of connection provides a specific port, on a specific computer, under a specific userid(almost always read only), in a specific directory, in which they allowed almost exclusively to do nothing but download files.

    Remember the companies that collect this information on you do not want you to actually realize they are collecting this information. They want to deflect as much responsibility as possible.

  8. Hallelujah! Some American attorneys have finally stepped up to the plate to defend Mr. Snowden. I have great respect for Bruce Fein.

    Did I read that right? Judge Garzon, who is defending the guy who has exposed wire tapping, has himself been accused of wire tapping?

    In February 2012 the Spanish Supreme Court found Mr. Garzón guilty of abuse of power for illegally ordering a wiretap of lawyers in a corruption case and suspended him for 11 years.

    That makes my head hurt.

  9. You read that right, T.O.

    Garzón was investigating a major corruption case, the so-called “Gürtel” money-laundering network, and was accused and convicted of illegally wiretapping conversations between suspects in the case and their lawyers. “The trial judge described this act as appropriate to a dictatorship and sentenced him to eleven years disqualification from judicial activity.”

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