Former NSA contractor gets Germany’s ‘Whistleblower Prize’
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed the most extensive US global surveillance operations, has been awarded this year’s German ‘Whistleblower Prize’ worth USD 3,900 in absentia.
The biennial award was given to Snowden, 31, at a ceremony in Berlin on Friday in recognition of his “bold efforts to expose the massive and unsuspecting monitoring and storage of communication data, which cannot be accepted in democratic societies,” organisers of the prize said.
In a message from his asylum in Russia, Snowden warned against the dangers of a surveillance state. “We should never forget the lessons of history when surveillance took the upper hand,” he said in a statement read out at the meeting.
He also reminded governments that they must be accountable to their citizens for their actions.
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has written a series of reports about surveillance operations by US and British intelligence services based on top secret NSA documents passed on to him by Snowden, praised him for taking “great personal risks” to expose the “unbelievably high level of lapses” by the United States. He has shown “how a single person can change the world,” Greenwald said.
Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the US, has fled his home in Hawaii to Hong Kong in May and subsequently to Moscow, where he has been staying since 22nd June.
He was granted a temporary asylum by the Russian authorities at the beginning of August.
The whistleblower prize was instituted in 1999 by the Association of German Scientists and the German chapter of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).
The German section of global anti-corruption organisation Transparency International joined the prize for the first time this year.
The whistleblower prize jury said in its citation that Snowden took “great personal risks” in leaking the documents on the operations of US and other western intelligence agencies, aware of the current criminal prosecution of whistleblowers in security areas.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hits out at Russia and China over Syria
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hit out at Russia and China over their stance in the Syrian crisis, saying in an interview published on Saturday that their action weakened the United Nations.
“It is very regrettable that Russia and China have refused for some time to come to a common position (with Western partners) on the Syrian conflict. This considerably weakens the role of the United Nations,” she said in an interview with regional daily Augsburger Allgemeine.
Russia and China have vetoed three resolutions that would increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the conflict in March 2011.
The two countries are also against a current push by the three Western permanent members of the Security Council – the United States, Britain and France – for a resolution that would allow military action against Syria over a chemical weapons attack which the West blames on the regime and the regime blames on the rebels.
In a separate interview to be published on Sunday in Welt am Sonntag weekly, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged Russia to reconsider its stance. “Those who look away despite the use of chemical weapons … encourage their use.
“That is why we are calling on Russia to send a signal along with the international community,” he said.
Merkel reiterated that the use of chemical weapons in Syria had “broken a taboo” which “cannot remain without consequence.”
However, she categorically excluded German participation in any military action without prior approval from the international community. ”Germany cannot participate in any military intervention without a mandate from the United Nations, NATO or the EU,” she said.
“Therefore, there is no question of any participation by the Federal Army at the moment,” added Merkel, who is seeking reelections for a third consecutive term in a 22nd September vote.
A poll published on Thursday showed German public opinion firmly against military action by the West in Syria, with about six in ten people opposed to any possible strikes and only about a third in favour.
Egypt to try former President Morsi for inciting violence and murder
Ousted President Mohammed Morsi is to be tried on charges of “incitement to murder and violence” in December 2012 when tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied outside the presidential palace. Egypt’s state prosecutor referred the former president for trial late on Sunday. Prosecutors’ investigation revealed that Morsi ordered to break up the protesters’ sit-in, but his order was not obeyed. Fourteen members of the Muslim Brotherhood are also to stand trial on the same charges. The date for the trial is yet to be announced.
Iran intends to exclude dollar, euro from foreign transactions
Iranian Economy Minister Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini has announced that Tehran plans to exclude some Western currencies, specially US dollar and euro, from its foreign trade transactions, Fars news agency reported. “According to the decision made by the cabinet workgroup, the dollar and euro will be gradually put aside from Iran’s trade with other countries,” Hosseini said on Monday. He stated that Iran has already changed its trade partners and redirected its trade transactions from the UK Britain and Germany to Middle-Eastern states. In 2005, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the first to propose a switch in transactions from dollar to euro as a counter-measure to the US stance against Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
NSA spying targeted Brazil, Mexico leaders directly – Greenwald
The US National Security Agency’s global surveillance program directly targeted the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, US journalist Glenn Greenwald told Brazilian TV news program Fantastico. Greenwald said the documents provided to him by NSA leaker Edward Snowden are dated June 2012 and show the communications of the leaders of Brazil and Mexico. Nieto, the contents of whose communications were accessed, was even being targeted while not yet the elected but still a presidential candidate.
US admits peace envoy took part in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations
The US envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace took part in the latest round of negotiations between Israel and Palestine that resumed in late July, the US State Department said on Sunday. “Israeli and Palestinian delegations have been meeting continuously since final status negotiations resumed on July 29,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The negotiations have been serious, and US Special Envoy Martin Indyk and his team have been fully briefed on the bilateral talks and also participated in a bilateral negotiating session,” she added without specifying whether any progress was made.