German chancellor defends Western intelligence agencies

Stefan Steinberg

In a long interview with the weekly political magazine Die Zeit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel vehemently defended the work of US and western intelligence agencies and reaffirmed that her government was not prepared to offer whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in Germany.

Merkel used the interview to whitewash the activities of intelligence agencies, and stressed that any discussions conducted over intelligence matters would be held in a spirit recognising that the US: “was and is our most trusted ally over decades.”

In recent weeks the German and sections of the international media have sought to play up differences between the German government and the US following the revelations of the extent of the NSA spying operation revealed by Snowden. The data released by Snowden made clear that in Europe Germany is the country that is most clearly subject to US surveillance.

Praising Merkel’s “caustic” criticisms of US intelligence practices, Die Tageszeitung welcomed one week ago what it referred to as a “transatlantic wake up call.” In fact, Merkel’s interview in Die Zeit makes clear that she will not lift a finger to challenge the illegal activities of the American or German intelligence agencies.

Obama Blocks Snowden's Asylum

Stephen Lendman

On July 12, Russia Today (RT) headlined "US 'blocks my asylum:' Snowden human rights activists to airport meeting," saying: Snowden remains stuck. He's in limbo. He's at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. He's in its transit area. A source told Interfax he'll meet with human rights organizations late Friday. Airport spokeswoman Anna Zakharenkova said she "can confirm that such a meeting will take place."

Snowden invited a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and Poland's Krido Legal. Moscow officials weren't asked to come.

Russia's human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin said he's willing to meet with Snowden. "I want to hear him out and then think what should be done," he said. "I think international organizations should take up this question. Snowden now is clearly in the situation of being a refugee from his country." He "wishes to express his thoughts on the US campaign for his capture that has put other passengers heading to Latin America at risk as a result."

Snowden's letter to human rights groups said:

"I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world. These nations have my gratitude. Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the US government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign President's plane to effect a search for a political refugee. This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution."

UNHCR, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Transparency International confirmed receipt of Snowden's letter.

Questions surrounding 2011 triple murder point to government cover-up in Boston Marathon bombing

Thomas Gaist & Barry Grey

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
is visible through an ambulance window after he was
captured in Watertown, Massachusetts.
(New York Post)

The New York Times published a front-page article Thursday (“In 2011 Murder Inquiry, Hints of Missed Chance to Avert Boston Bombing”) that raises new questions about the alleged perpetrators of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing and adds to the evidence of a government cover-up in the explosions that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

Citing “senior law enforcement officials,” the article asserts that the elder of the two Tsarnaev brothers alleged to have detonated two bombs near the finish line of the marathon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was involved in the murder of three men in Waltham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, on September 11, 2011—the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington DC.

The ostensible occasion for the article was the arraignment on Wednesday of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan’s younger brother, on multiple terrorism charges before a federal judge in Boston. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured on April 19 following a shootout in which his older brother was killed. He pled not guilty to 30 counts, most of which potentially carry the death penalty. (See: “Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev arraigned in federal court”).

The Times article published Thursday asserts that Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and, like Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen and martial arts fighter, was also involved in the triple slaying. The authors of the article repeat the official story that Todashev confessed to the involvement of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and himself in the gruesome killings during hours of interrogation at his Florida apartment last May 22. The questioning ended with a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operative repeatedly shooting and killing Todashev.

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