Backbytes: John le Carré to Edward Snowden - 'Good luck... You're probably screwed!'

By Backbytes
13 Dec 2013 View Comments

John le Carré, the former spook turned spy novel writer, is probably a better person than most to ask about the likely fate of Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who has probably done more to reveal the brazen hypocrisy of Western governments than anyone else.

"Well done, lad!" le Carré told German newspaper Der Spiegel in an interview. "Snowden has taken what was surely a very difficult and life-determining decision: he has broken laws and betrayed his employer to unveil a much more serious breach of the law by the NSA itself. I wish he would get a medal, or at least win back his freedom."

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He also described as "utter nonsense" the claim of John Kornblum, former US ambassador to Germany, that Snowden could safely have whistle-blown to his superiors. "On principle an intelligence agency cannot let a whistle-blower go unpunished," said le Carré.

He continued: "Mr Snowden, make no illusions! They will persecute and probably even catch you, because you have committed a mortal sin - You have made the US government and corporate America look like idiots. And for that they think the death penalty is too lenient."

So, once his year in Russia is up, Snowden is probably toast. Germany probably won't give him asylum, and somewhere like Ecuador or Venezuela would also quickly turn him over to the US with a change of government - or, he could expect to be "rendered" to the US.

As for the various surveillance and eavesdropping programmes of the NSA, GCHQ and other Western intelligence agencies, le Carré suspects it's all a waste of our tax dollars/pounds/euros*.

"I was aware how the Americans skim everything. But I do not understand what it is supposed to bring, the cost of the evaluation is disproportionate to the result," he says. 

"And, of course, it is illegal. The Americans seem to have given up all of their hard-won freedoms. We live in extraordinary times - and what most amazes me is how calmly we take all of these monstrosities."

* delete as applicable

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