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  1. Geneva, Switzerland (CNN) -- The diplomatic gridlock between Iran and the West seemed immovable for decades. But on Sunday, diplomats made history when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement over Iran's nuclear program. The deal dials back Iran's ability to work toward a nuclear weapon and at the same time loosens the choke hold of international sanctions on Iran's economy. The two sides now have six months to find out how historic the breakthrough really is. That's the duration of the preliminary agreement hammered out in Geneva, Switzerland, by Iran and the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. "There are lots of things, regrettably, that we still have to work on. Our hope is that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif want to build this different relationship, want to show in clear ways as we go forward that the program is peaceful," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN's "State of the Union." The foreign policy chiefs from the nations making up the group traveled to Geneva from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on Saturday to pound out the last key points of the deal. Iran has stumbled from one economic crisis to the next under the sanctions, and unemployment currently runs over 24%. The breathing room is intended to buy Iran and the negotiating powers time to arrive at a more comprehensive agreement. But it represents an opportunity, not a guarantee. "It's a little too early to break open Champagne bottles and put on the party hats on this one," said Middle East diplomatic expert Aaron David Miller. Its success hinges on whether or not it leads to a bigger agreement to "put Iran's nuclear weapons program to rest." That the diplomats came to any accord at all represents a momentous budge in a nearly 35-year deadlock marked by distrust, suspicion and open animosity between the United States and Iran, which broke off diplomatic relations after Iran's revolution in 1979. It was the first such agreement in 10 years of negotiation attempts over Iran's nuclear program. "What happened over the last several weeks is by any standard extraordinary," Miller said. Kerry told CNN that it will be vital to verify Iran's compliance with the deal. "None of this is based on trust. It's not a question of trust," he said. "It's a question of having the verification and the intrusive inspections and the insights into the program and the commitments that can be held accountable, so that you are in fact creating a fail-safe mechanism by which you are making your judgments." Success or setback? Reactions to the breakthrough ran the gamut from joy in Iran to dismay in Israel. In a televised speech, Rouhani sold it as a win for his negotiators. "We are pleased after 10 years that an agreement on this level has been reached," he said. He played up the fact that the deal allows Iran to enrich uranium to a level making it usable as nuclear fuel. During the six months of the agreement, major facilities in Iran will continue doing so, he said. That level, 5% enrichment, is well below the level needed to make weapons. The deal also marks the beginning of the end of sanctions, Rouhani said. The announcement was extremely popular with Iranian citizens. They believe this is a golden opportunity to improve relations with the West. "Everyone in Iran is very happy," Ali, a factory manager, told CNN. "Iranian people want to cooperate with all countries so we can make a best life. ... Iranian people are not dangerous." He said life with sanctions has been difficult for young people like him. In the end, Iran's insistence that it has never sought nuclear weapons will be vindicated, Rouhani said, and that notion will go down as a "historical joke." Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, traditionally very distrustful of Western powers, seemed pleased. This could be the basis of intelligent actions of the future, he said. U.S. President Barack Obama took to live television to announce the deal as a success that includes "substantial limitations that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon." Kerry has stressed that Iran will not be permitted to produce bomb-grade enriched uranium. But decades of mistrust run deep. Obama's Republican opponents in Washington scorned the deal, and key ally Israel frowned upon it. Both say it will have the opposite effect, advancing Iran's alleged quest for a bomb. "This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands," said freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio has been touted as a potential presidential hopeful in the 2016 elections. Netanyahu: obligation to defend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adamantly distrusts Iran and decried the agreement as a "historic mistake" on Sunday. For decades, he has listened to Iranian leaders threaten the Jewish state, one even saying Israel should be wiped off the map. During the negotiations in Geneva, Khamenei responded to passionate Israeli skepticism by saying Israeli officials "cannot be even called humans" and referred to Netanyahu as "the rabid dog of the region." Now that sanctions are working, Netanyahu wants to see the thumbscrews tightened, not loosened, until Iran shuts down much of its nuclear capability, which Tehran claims it will only use for peaceful purposes. The agreement does not apply to Israel, he said Sunday. If need be, Israel will take matters into its own hands, he said. "The regime in Iran is dedicated to destroying Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat. I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not let Iran develop a nuclear military capability." Israeli President Shimon Peres backed up Netanyahu's show of strength but also extended an olive branch. "I would like to say to the Iranian people: You are not our enemies and we are not yours. There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically," Peres said. He called on Iran to drop ambitions of acquiring a nuclear weapon and end support to terrorists threatening Israel. Kerry: Israel safer Kerry thinks Israel became safer from an Iranian threat on Sunday than it was on Saturday, he told CNN's Candy Crowley. "Israel is threatened by what has been going on in Iran," he conceded. But it is better to have a chance to put Tehran's program in reverse than to let it secretly roll forward toward creating a nuclear bomb. It's not about getting cozier with Iran, Kerry said. "We are open not to being duped and not to being tricked and not to being led down the primrose path, but open to setting up a verifiable, clear process," Kerry said. Washington skeptics In the weeks before the start of the negotiations, U.S. legislators appeared to be obliging Netanyahu, as they considered loading new sanctions onto the Islamic Republic. If that happens, Obama may have to veto them, Kerry said. New sanctions would torpedo the deal. But Kerry said he will assure Congress the deal supports its goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Obama has said that the agreement only involves some of the sanctions, leaving the toughest ones in place. The agreement is not about trusting Iran, it is about being able to verify the country's compliance, a White House official said. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it is ready to inspect and monitor Iran's nuclear activities. It called the new deal a "another important step forward." If things go sour, all options are still on the table, Obama has said, including military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. Obama understands how Israel in particular feels about Iran, a senior administration official said. "You can be sure that President Obama will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu" on Sunday. He may also need to have a conversation with Saudi Arabia, which has lasting tensions with Tehran and has been at odds with Obama over much of his Middle East policy. The government expressed displeasure Sunday with the preliminary deal. "The Saudi government has been very concerned about these negotiations with Iran and unhappy at the prospect of a deal with Iran," a Saudi government official who is not authorized to speak to the media told CNN. All about enrichment The White House and Zarif both insist that the agreement meets their expectations on the issue of uranium enrichment. Iran has consistently said it is enriching uranium and building nuclear reactors only for peaceful civilian energy needs. Nuclear power plants use uranium that is enriched to 5%. It's the fuel that the plants use to generate electricity. The White House has said enrichment may not go above that. Iran must also dilute to below 5%, or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment, its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase of the deal. It may not turn on certain centrifuges, the devices used to enrich uranium, that have not yet been brought on line. This is in line with the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which Iran has signed onto. It requires Tehran not to create nuclear weapons or enable other countries to obtain them. Iran has also agreed to what Kerry described as "unprecedented international monitoring" of its nuclear program. The Rouhani difference This final round of negotiations in Geneva stretched on for four days, but began months ago in secrecy, shortly after Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president earlier this year. Ahmadinejad's foreign policy rhetoric was marked by caustic jabs at the United States and bellicose threats toward Israel. He railed against economic sanctions and drove the advancement of nuclear technology. Rouhani has struck a more conciliatory tone and made the lifting of sanctions against his country a priority. U.S. and Iranian officials for months have been holding private, previously secret discussions to generate ideas for the wider nuclear negotiations, a senior Obama administration official confirmed Saturday. The Americans briefed their P5+1 colleagues. It led to formal negotiations in Geneva. Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, led the working negotiations to their near conclusion. Then, to pound out difficult details, she called in the heavy lifters on Saturday: Kerry, his British counterpart William Hague, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russia's foreign policy chief, Sergey Lavrov. Shortly after 3:00 a.m. local time Sunday, a tweet from a European diplomat let on that there was a deal. An hour later, an Iranian colleague followed suit. Minutes later, Ashton made the official announcement. A diplomatic mountain had been moved. :view: Source: Read more on CNN | Washington Post
  2. February 07, 2014 22:01 The United States’ top diplomat said this week that the US will not walk away from Japan as tensions worsen in the Far East between America’s Asian ally and China regarding a heated territory dispute in the Pacific. US Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday when he reiterated previous remarks from the White House about the Obama administration’s willingness to come to Japan’s aid if events escalate in the East China Sea. Late last year, China declared a portion of the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan to be Chinese territory, infuriating Japanese officials who had long considered that region to be within their control. In an almost immediate response, the US mobilized in the region and sent surveillance craft and B-52 bombers over the air defense zone in defiance of China’s wishes. "We, the United States, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea," Vice President Joe Biden said back in December during a news conference held there alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Now speaking in Washington, DC two months later, Kerry this week hammered home the notion that the US won’t abandon Japan should an attack from China emerge. "I... underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies,” Reuters quoted Kerry as saying, referencing the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between both nations signed in 1960. "The United States neither recognizes nor accepts China's declared East China Sea [Air Defense Identification Zone] and the United States has no intention of changing how we conduct operations in the region," he added, according to the Associated Press. "We are deeply committed to maintaining the prosperity and the stability in the Asia-Pacific. And that won't be possible without respect for international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight.” The US has numerous military bases in Japan and across the region, and would be obligated to provide military assistance under the mutual cooperation treaty should China launch a strike in an attempt to strengthen their hold on the disputed territory. China had the second largest defense budget of all nations in the world as of last year, according to a report by HIS Jane’s Aerospace, Defense and Security, but is leaps and bounds behind what the Pentagon spends annually. Japan currently has roughly the fifth-largest budget of its kind, but made headlines back in December when it was revealed that they are in the midst of boosting defense spending by a significant amount for the first time in nearly 20 years. Any assistance from the US Department of Defense would largely outmatch even the might of the second biggest military in the world. “China is firmly opposed to Japan’s relevant actions,” state-owned news agency Xinhua quoted the Chinese minister of defense after news of increased spending came out of Tokyo last December. Kerry is expected to make his way to China next week. If history is any indication, however, he’s likely to be met with strong opposition from opponents who wants the US out of the dispute. Vice President Biden made a visit there himself in the midst of his Asian-tour in late 2013, and a planned trip to China prompted the country’s Global Times newspaper to warn against even introducing the topic while meeting with dignitaries. "The only choice he has if he wants a successful trip [to China] is not to go too far in his words over there," an op-ed published at the time read. "If he openly supports Tokyo and wants to 'send an expedition to punish' Beijing, the Chinese people won't accept it." Following Friday’s meeting, Kishida said he and Kerry agreed they will respond to any action from China in the future “calmly and with resolve.” In the meantime, though, both the US and Japan are interested in other endeavors — like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. According to the AP, the multi-nation trade deal between the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific-region countries was also among the issues discussed by Kishida and Kerry during Friday’s meeting. “[F]inalizing the TPP is one of the most important things that we can do for our countries’ economic futures,” Kerry said, according to the AP, and Kishida reportedly added that has tentatively agreed to cooperate towards a “prompt conclusion” of the negotiations. http://rt.com/usa/kerry-kishida-china-japan-119
  3. By Anna Kuchma,February 5, 2014 Dan Pototsky, RBTH Users say they plan to ignore the ban while experts try to balance the virtual currency’s benefits and drawbacks. On Jan. 29, the Central Bank of Russia issued an official warning stating that all Bitcoin transactions will be considered potentially suspicious and added that use of Bitcoins in Russia is illegal. The currency is already banned in China, and the Financial Supervisory Authority of Denmark has also issues a statement warning against its use. In China, financial institutions are prohibited from conducting virtual currency transactions. "Overall, the Central Bank’s position is justified. They’re trying to protect the financial system. The main complaint regarding Bitcoin is that there is no backing from any central monetary authority, and they are underpinned only by user confidence that they can make purchases. The danger to the financial system is that they can be impaired. However, the value is provided by the fact that it is very difficult to generate Bitcoins,” said Maxim Petronevich, chief expert at Gazprombank’s Center for Economic Forecasting. Still, the use of Bitcoin raises many questions. The ability to use the currency anonymously has already resulted in several scandals involving fraud and the sale of illegal goods on the Internet. Additionally, some economists warn that Bitcoin could be the next financial bubble. On the other hand, Bitcoin is an intriguing alternative to standard world currencies. Its low commission rate makes it very attractive to consumers, and many banks, including JP Morgan Chase have expressed interest in using a variation of the Bitcoin model for their own online payment systems. In Russia as a whole, Bitcoin just started gaining popularity. According to experts, Russia accounts for only a very small portion of global turnover, and the volume of global Bitcoin transactions is barely $10 million. "In Russia, Bitcoin is used more for savings rather than to pay for goods and services. Participants in the system who noted the potential growth rate of the virtual currency and invested in it are receiving a solid income today,” said Zecurion research director Vladimir Ulyanov. So far, Russian Bitcoin users have been on the defensive. Mikhail is the owner of two Subway franchises that accept Bitcoins. He made the decision to accept the new currency due to the number of progressive students he sees as customers. He believes that the future belongs to virtual currency, and not rubles or dollars. As for the Central Bank’s position, Mikhail says that he will continue to accept Bitcoins until formal action by the regulator. Drivers for the Wheely car service began to accept Bitcoin at the very end of January. Marketing director Sergei Kalyuzhny said that during the first week the virtual currency was in use, transactions totaled $1,000 (1-2 Bitcoins). “To process these transactions, we use the services of American companies, which gives us the right to put Pay by Bitcoin on our Web site,” said Kalyuzhny. “We don’t have anonymous payments, so for now, until Bitcoin is explicitly forbidden by the Central Bank, we see no reason to stop accepting the virtual currency.” The Petrodvorets-based watchmaker Rocket uses a similar arrangement. “Initially, using Bitcoin was an experiment for us. So far, 95 percent of virtual currency sales occur in the Western market,” said company manager and creative director Jacque von Polje. Analyst Mikhail Kuzmin of Investcafe said that the ban would actually not have much effect on the use of the currency. “Those who use Bitcoins for personal reasons will face no harm from the ban, as the mining and transfer of Bitcoins is not regulated by the Central Bank. Moreover, no one bothers to buy virtual currency at major foreign exchange points, and only changing Bitcoins for rubles is prohibited.” http://rbth.ru/business/2014/02/05/russia_becomes_the_second_country_to_ban_bitcoin_33871.html
  4. 19 January 2014 Last updated at 22:02 GMT The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Kiev says ''wave upon wave'' of attacks have been carried out on the police line Clashes have taken place after large crowds of pro-EU demonstrators rallied in Ukraine's capital Kiev against new laws restricting public protests. Stun grenades and flares were thrown as protesters tried to reach parliament, their way blocked by police and buses. Opposition politician Vitali Klitschko later said President Viktor Yanukovych had agreed to set up a cross-party commission to resolve the crisis. The US appealed for an end to the violence and urgent political talks. Mr Klitschko, who leads the Udar party, made comments after meeting President Yanukovych at his residence outside Kiev. "The president pledged to create on Monday morning a commission with representatives from the presidential administration, cabinet and opposition to find a solution to the crisis situation," Udar quoted the former world heavyweight boxing champion as saying. Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader, said Mr Yanukovych called him to say that he was ready for talks. The new legislation was passed with a quick show of hands on Thursday by MPs loyal to the president, who then signed it into law. Analysis David Stern BBC News, Kiev The violence on Kiev's streets on Sunday opens a worrying and potentially dangerous chapter in Ukraine's anti-government, pro-European protest movement. Riot police, in contrast with previous clashes, have been relatively reserved in the face of activists' attacks with petrol bombs and paving stones. But it seems unlikely that there will continue to be no reaction from officials in the coming days. Thanks to the "anti-protest" legislation, which helped spark these confrontations, President Yanukovych's government has an extensive legal toolbox within his grasp. But the question remains which method they will use: a general crackdown, or a more surgical approach of arresting individual activist leaders. And then there are the protesters themselves. As the fighting near the Ukrainian parliament rages into the night, only one thing is clear: Ukraine's leaders on both sides of the divide are incapable of ending the political standoff. The opposition accused the ruling party of a coup. US and EU officials have expressed deep concern at the new legislation. Ukraine's current anti-government movement began in protest at Mr Yanukovych's decision in late November to pull out of a landmark treaty with the EU, but has expanded to demand his resignation. 'Extremists and provocateurs' Sunday's rally in Kiev, attended by tens of thousands, heard calls from opposition politicians to disregard the new laws curbing protests that pro-EU demonstrators have been staging for the past two months. Clashes erupted as some people headed away from the main square towards parliament, to vent their anger over the new laws. They ran into police cordons near Kiev's Dynamo football stadium, some 300 metres from Independence Square. They pelted police with flares, thunder flashes and petrol bombs, the BBC's Daniel Sandford in Kiev reports. They overturned a bus used by riot police and interior troops and set it alight. Other vehicles were also set on fire. The police could be seen behind buses sheltering under their riot shields, and occasionally throwing their own thunder flashes and gas canisters to try to force the crowd back, our correspondent says. Police also used water cannon to try to disperse the demonstrators. Pro-European protesters attack a police van during a rally near government administration buildings in Kiev 19/01/2014 Some in the crowd of protesters attacked a bus being used by the police as a cordon Police van which was attacked after a pro-European integration protest burns It was set alight after petrol bombs were thrown Vitaly Klitschko (centre) reacts after he was sprayed with a powder fire extinguisher during a pro-European integration rally in Kiev 19/01/2104 Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (centre), who called for calm, was sprayed with a powder fire extinguisher Interior ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov blamed "provocateurs and extremists" for the confrontations and urged people not to follow their lead. Police were filming everything and had opened criminal proceedings under Article 294 (organisation of mass riots), the interior ministry said. The opposition leaders said it was committed to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, denouncing those activists who took part in clashes. Call for defiance Earlier, Mr Klitschko called on President Yanukovych to respond to the protesters' demands and to hold elections. "You're fighting with your nation. Stop the escalation. Don't go the way of (former Romanian President Nicolae) Ceausescu and (former Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi. During the day, the rally on the main square heard a call from a former Ukrainian navy chief for members of the armed forces to defy "illegal" orders from those in power, Unian news agency reported. "Tomorrow the regime will enslave you too. Therefore we are calling on you to fulfil your military oath of loyalty to the Ukrainian people and not to the authorities who have gone off the rails," said Rear Admiral Ihor Tenyukh, who was sacked by Mr Yanukovych in 2010. Demonstrators in Kiev, 19 January Some demonstrators wore masks, also in defiance of the new law Demonstrators in Kiev, 19 January Kiev has seen protest rallies every Sunday for two months Speakers gather on stage at protest in Kiev, 19 January Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk (second from left) was among those taking the stage Opposition leaders are under huge pressure to come up with an action plan, amid criticism from many activists that their campaign has been too passive. The new curbs on protests, which have been signed into law by the president, include: A ban on the unauthorised installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places Provision to arrest protesters wearing masks or helmets A ban on protests involving more than five vehicles in convoy Hefty fines or jail for breaches of law The protesters have been camping out behind extensive barricades on the Euromaidan, as Independence Square has been dubbed, for nearly two months. The mass demonstrations were initially triggered by President Yanukovych's last-minute rejection of an EU deal under heavy pressure from Russia in November. The protesters' demands later widened to include the fight against what they said was widespread government corruption and abuse of power. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25798320
  5. WASHINGTON Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:12pm EST A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, in Beijing in this June 13, 2013 photo illustration. Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said on Sunday he is investigating whether former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden had help from Russia in stealing and revealing U.S. government secrets. "I believe there's a reason he ended up in the hands - the loving arms - of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence," U.S. Representative Mike Rogers told the NBC program "Meet the Press," referring to the Russian intelligence agency that is a successor of the Soviet-era KGB. Snowden last year fled the United States to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he was granted at least a year of asylum. U.S. officials want Snowden returned to the United States for prosecution. His disclosures of large numbers of stolen U.S. secret documents sparked a debate around the world about the reach of U.S. electronic surveillance. Rogers did not provide specific evidence to back his suggestions of Russian involvement in Snowden's activities, but said: "Some of the things we're finding we would call clues that certainly would indicate to me that he had some help." Asked whether he is investigating Russian links to Snowden's activities, Rogers said, "Absolutely. And that investigation is ongoing." Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on "Meet the Press" that Snowden "may well have" had help from Russia. "We don't know at this stage," Feinstein said. Feinstein said Snowden gained employment at the National Security Agency "with the intent to take as much material down as he possibly could." On the ABC program "This Week," U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, also expressed his belief that Snowden had foreign help. "Hey, listen, I don't think ... Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself," he said. "I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did," McCaul said. Asked whether he thought Russia was that "foreign power," McCaul said, "You know, to say definitively, I can't. I can't answer that." 'TOTALITY OF THE INFORMATION' Rogers indicated that the nature of the material that Snowden obtained suggested foreign involvement. "When you look at the totality of the information he took, the vast majority of it had to do with military, tactical and operational events happening around the world," he told the CBS program "Face the Nation." Michael Morell, the former deputy CIA director, said he shared Rogers' concern about what Russian intelligence services may be doing with Snowden. "I don't have any particular evidence but one of the things I point to when I talk about this is that the disclosures that have been coming recently are very sophisticated in their content and sophisticated in their timing - almost too sophisticated for Mr. Snowden to be deciding on his own. And it seems to me he might be getting some help," Morell said on "Face the Nation." Other U.S. security officials have told Reuters as recently as last week that the United States has no evidence at all that Snowden had any confederates who assisted him or guided him about what NSA materials to hack or how to do so. Snowden told the New York Times in October he did not take any secret NSA documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June 2013. "There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents," Snowden told the Times. In remarks aired on Sunday on ABC's "This Week," President Vladimir Putin discussed Snowden's freedom of movement in Russia and that the American would be free to attend the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. "Mr. Snowden is subject to the treatment of provisional asylum here in Russia. He has a right to travel freely across the country. He has no special limitation. He can just buy a ticket and come here," Putin said. (Reporting by Will Dunham, Toni Clarke and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jim Loney and Chris Reese) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/19/us-usa-security-snowden-idUSBREA0I0EW20140119
  6. By Michael J de la Merced Jan 26, 2014, 06.18 AM IST DAVOS (Switzerland): Russia plans to extend its offer of asylum to Edward J Snowden beyond August, a Russian lawmaker said on Friday at the WEF here. The lawmaker, Aleksei K Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, hinted during a panel discussion that the extension of temporary refugee status for Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, might be indefinite. "He will not be sent out of Russia," Pushkov said. "It will be up to Snowden." He added that Snowden's father believes his son could not get a fair trial in the United States. Pushkov made his comments came against a backdrop of broad criticism of the American spying programs that have come to light since the summer. He pointed to the sheer volume of information that American authorities are able to gather. "The US has created a Big Brother system," Pushkov said. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Snowdens-asylum-may-be-extended-by-Russia/articleshow/29384008.cms
  7. After numerous warnings the music industry has run out of patience with vKontakte, Russia's equivalent of Facebook. Demanding more than $1 million in damages, this week Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music each filed separate lawsuits in Russia, accusing the social network site of facilitating large-scale copyright infringement. For several years vKontakte, or VK, has been marked as a piracy facilitator by copyright holders and even the U.S. Government. In several Special 301 Reports published by the United States Trade Representative, Russia’s Facebook equivalent has been criticized for the huge quantities of unauthorized media it hosts. As a result it is currently labeled a “notorious market”, a term usually reserved for piracy’s apparent worst-of-the-worst. In common with many user-generated sites, VK allows its millions of users to upload anything from movies and TV shows to their entire music collections. Unlike Facebook and other major players, Russia’s social network has been very slow to adopt anti-piracy measures. Three major record labels – Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music – have now taken their concerns to the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court. The labels accuse VK of running a service that facilitates large-scale copyright infringement and are demanding countermeasures and compensation. The record labels have asked for an order requiring VK to implement fingerprinting technology to delete copyrighted works and prevent them from being re-uploaded. In addition, Sony, Warner and Universal are demanding 50 million rubles ($1.4 million) from the social networking site to compensate for losses suffered. “VK’s music service, unlike others in Russia, is an unlicensed file-sharing service that is designed for copyright infringement on a large-scale,” IFPI’s Frances Moore says in a comment. “We have repeatedly highlighted this problem over a long period of time. We have encouraged VK to cease its infringements and negotiate with record companies to become a licensed service. To date the company has taken no meaningful steps to tackle the problem, so today legal proceedings are being commenced,” Moore adds. VK has yet to respond to the accusations. Russia’s telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor previously said that VK was trying very hard to better their anti-piracy practices, but these efforts apparently came too late. Source: TorrentFreak
  8. It was supposed to be the world's toughest anti-piracy regime but Russia's site blocking legislation just isn't working. That's not just the opinion of irate movie and music companies either, but comments from Vladimir Putin himself. In the early days of 2013 it became clear that after years of wavering, Russia was finally going to get tough on Internet piracy. Despite outcry from Internet giants such as Google, and Yandex, the country’s largest search engine, the government pressed ahead with its plans. On August 1, 2013, a new law was passed which would allow sites to be blocked at the ISP level if they failed to respond to copyright infringement complaints in a timely fashion. But despite the legislative teeth, file-sharing sites were not blocked, with many simply complying with takedown demands as required by law. In January 2014, however, the government said that the law was actually having the required effect, with the number of Internet users purchasing legal content going up by 30%. But at the same time there were complaints. The founder of IVI.ru, the country’s leading source of Hollywood-licensed video, said that his company had not benefited from the law. And now it seems that the law’s lack of success is being admitted be people right at the top – the very, very top. During a meeting with members of the House of the Federation Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the legislation introduced in August 2013 had failed to meet its objectives. “This is an extremely important area, and we still have very much to do here,” he told the meeting. “Even after we have adopted these solutions for intellectual property protection in the field of cinema, recent analysis has shown that it does not work as effectively as we expected.” Putin added that despite the new law, pirate movies can appear on websites anywhere and completely undermine the framework. “The effect is that all of our protection is reduced to zero,” the President said. But even though things aren’t working, there are no signs of any retreat. Instead the Russian government is looking to get even more aggressive. “It is necessary to consider additional steps to protect intellectual property rights,” Putin concluded. Work is already underway to expand the current legislation to encompass all content since right now only video is protected. The government is also looking at introducing fines for errant hosting providers and wants to find a way to permanently close sites persistently engaging in piracy. “Sites engaging in piracy professionally (it’s their business) should be closed,” said Vladimir Medina of the Ministry of Culture. But the idea that closing sites will solve the problem was dismissed by a representative from the body in control of .ru domains. Noting that she is reminded of the “Streisand Effect”, where suppressed information only leads to wider dissemination, Olga Alexandrova-Massine said people will find a way to access blocked content. Source: TorrentFreak
  9. Responding to copyright takedown requests is generally considered to be the best way for a user-generated content site to stay on the right side of the law. However, new copyright amendments being prepared by Russia's Ministry of Communications could see entire websites blocked by court order if experts believe their main aim is piracy. Complying with elements of the DMCA and its European equivalents is an important measure in the operations of many thousands of websites. Not being held liable for infringements carried out by users has allowed entrepreneurs to develop countless user-generated content projects. For many rightsholders, however, the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA and similar legislation are being abused by ‘pirate’ sites. While these sites take down content when asked thereby gaining protection, they are also accused of turning a blind eye to large-scale infringing content elsewhere on their indexes. In Russia, rightsholders say they face similar problems, even though the country introduced tough anti-piracy legislation in 2013. Following a legitimate complaint, current law allows for content to be blocked at the ISP level if site operators fail to respond to takedown requests in a timely manner. However, many sites – including popular torrent sites indexing huge amounts of infringing content – have been complying with the notices as required, thus avoiding punitive measures. The government now wants to close this loophole. Amendments to copyright law being prepared by a working group at the Ministry of Communications foresee a regime in which sites can be blocked by court order, even if they comply with takedown notices. “Unscrupulous illegal sites should be blocked entirely,” Ministry of Communications deputy Alexei Volin told Izvestia. According to experts familiar with the discussions, rightsholders want the government to introduce the concept of a “malicious site”. However, the puzzle faced by the Ministry is the development of criteria which will enable it to classify sites into pirate and non-pirate categories. One option is to classify a site as pirate when it violates copyright and distributes content for profit. Rightsholders say they want either element alone to be enough. Other amendments under consideration would see site owners and hosting providers forced to restrict access not only to copyright-infringing content, but also to “information necessary to obtain it using the Internet,” a clear reference to torrents. But according to Irina Levova, director at the Strategic Internet Projects Research Institute, this amendment goes too far. “The wording in the law is incorrect,” Leva says. “Under it falls even ordinary hyperlinks, including those that are placed in search engines. We believe that this phrase should be abolished.” But according to Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry, hosting actual content or links to it amounts to the same problem. “The business of a torrent tracker is not very different from the business of any site that hosts pirated content,” Agronov says. “They all offer access to content in exchange for viewing ads or paying for higher download speeds. For us, the rights holders, these sites are indistinguishable, regardless of their technical features.” The amendments are set to be presented to the government on Friday. Source: TorrentFreak
  10. Russia demands Internet users show ID to access public Wifi (Reuters) - Russia further tightened its control of the Internet on Friday, requiring people using public Wifi hotspots provide identification, a policy that prompted anger from bloggers and confusion among telecom operators on how it would work. The decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on July 31 but published online on Friday, also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks. The legislation caught many in the industry by surprise and companies said it was not clear how it would be enforced. A flurry of new laws regulating Russia's once freewheeling Internet has been condemned by President Vladimir Putin's critics as a crackdown on dissent, after the websites of two of his prominent foes were blocked this year. Putin, who alarmed industry leaders in April by saying the Internet is "a CIA project", says the laws are needed to fight "extremism" and "terrorism." More: Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said that demanding ID from Internet users was normal. "Identification of users (via bank cards, cell phone numbers, etc.) with access to public Wifi is a worldwide practice," he tweeted. A pro-Kremlin lawmaker said the measure was needed to prevent Cold War-style propaganda attacks against Russia. "It's about security. An information war is under way. Anonymous access to the Internet in public areas allows illegal activities to be carried out with impunity," Vadim Dengin, deputy chair of parliament's information technology committee, was quoted by state newspaper Izvestia as saying. Alexei Venediktov, editor of the popular Ekho Moskvy radio, lampooned the decree, saying the government's next step would be to embed a chip in people's chests "to automatically detect potential sellers of information to the enemy." UNEXPECTED Industry experts said vague wording in the decree did not define exactly what state who would have to comply with the law or what methods would be needed to authenticate users' identity. The Communications Ministry said in a statement that a "direct obligation to present identity documents" would only be required at "collective access points" such as post offices where the government provides public access to Wifi. State newspapers Izvestia and Rossiskaya Gazeta said the law required users to provide their full names, confirmed by an ID, at public Wifi access points including cafes and public parks. The personal data would be stored for at least six months. An official with the Moscow city government, Artem Yermolaev, said user identification could be carried out by registering a telephone number and receiving Wifi logins by SMS. Internet companies said they knew little about the new law. "It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us," said Sergei Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Electronic Communications Association. The requirement for businesses to declare who was using their Internet networks would be the "biggest headache," he said. "We will hope that this restrictive tendency stops at some point because soon won't there be anything left to ban." Another law, which took affect on Aug. 1, requires bloggers with more than 3,000 followers to register with the government and comply with the same rules as media outlets. Websites are also required to store their data on servers located in Russia from 2016 - a move some believe would cut Russian users off from many international online services. Source
  11. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Russia's controversial anti-piracy law. Figures released by Russia's telecoms agency reveal that in the past year 12 sites, mainly torrent trackers, were blocked under the legislation. Critics say that web-blocking has changed very little, with pirate content just as easy to find as before. Following intense pressure from local and international rightsholders, on August 1, 2013, Russia introduced a brand new anti-piracy law. The key strength of the legislation is that provides a mechanism for sites to be blocked should they not comply with rightsholder takedown requests within 72 hours. This element of the framework caused widespread fear and speculation. Would thousands of sites, some carrying legitimate content, find themselves censored at the hands of over-broad legislation tipped heavily in favor of “corporate interests”? Frankly, no. Concern that rightsholders would stampede to court to quickly wipe out as many sites as possible proved unfounded. Out of 19 complaints filed in the first three weeks of the law, just 11 were correctly presented and processed. Torrent site Rutor.org was one of the earliest casualties. After five months in action, rightsholders had filed around 75 official complaints. In 30 cases the targeted sites complied with official removal orders and in 19 others a decision was taken by the authorities to block offending URLs. Then, just six months later, Minister of Communications Nikolai Nikiforov announced that the law was having the required effect. “The law has actually brought us serious results,” he said. “We found that [the law's introduction] resulted in an increase of 30% in the number of people who pay for legal content. This is a major achievement. Our country plans to increase the number of consumers of legal content on the Internet to 30 million people by 2018.” Critics remain doubtful of the dramatic turnaround and throughout the year there has been little downturn in the number of rightsholders complaining about piracy. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the new law’s introduction and it’s fair to say there were no festivities. According to figures obtained by Izvestia from telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, during the past year the Moscow City Court imposed preliminary interim measures against 175 sites following copyright complaints. The Court went on to block a total of 12 file-sharing related domains, most of them BitTorrent trackers. This number is far below the numbers predicted one year ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly a far greater number of IP addresses were eventually blocked, 99 in total. “This is due to the fact that the sites tried to avoid blocking by migrating to other IP-addresses that Roscomnadzor also monitors and places on the registry,” a spokesman said. But despite all the complaints and blocking, pirated content is still easy to find, a key issue that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Nevertheless, the watchdog says that things are improving. “If you want to find illegal content on the web, you still can today. But rightsholders now have the opportunity to make an impact on legal grounds, which is most critical for them in terms of the spread of pirated content. They are also beginning to unite to close pirated resources for longer,” the spokesman said. Furthermore, fears expressed by search engines that the law would negatively impact the web have not come to pass. “As for the dissatisfaction shown by Internet companies following the entry into force of the law, neither Google, Mail.ru, or Yandex has suffered from it. Many areas, where earlier there was illegal content, are now beginning to build into legitimate businesses.” But despite positivity from the watchdog, critics remain. “If you want to download any movie and can spend five minutes and still download it, then the law has brought no benefits,” Wikimedia executive director Stanislav Kozlovsky told Izvestia. “Also remaining are the problems caused by the very principle of blocking IP-addresses. If a pirate site is suddenly blocked, it costs nothing to move to a different address. This problem is solved in just a day.” Only time will tell if Russia’s legislative moves will pay off in the end, but if the first 12 months are anything to go by, they will have to wait considerably longer yet. Source: TorrentFreak
  12. Published time: January 23, 2014 04:12 Edited time: January 23, 2014 05:37 A huge crowd of demonstrators has surrounded the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesting against Washingtons meddling in the countrys internal affairs. Follow RT's live updates. The event was organized by Kievans for Clean City, a new pro-government activist group which has spoken out against the rioters and violence in downtown Kiev. Several thousand demonstrators are taking part, urging the US to stop sponsoring mass unrests, local media reported. The US is behind everything that is happening in Kievs downtown right now. The financing is coming from over there. This has to be stopped. That is what we came out here to say to the whole world: US - stop! US - there needs to be peace in Ukraine, said Ivan Protsenko, one of the movements leaders. Rioters on Grushevskogo Street continue to burn tires, with building No. 4 catching fire from the high flames, Unian news agency quoted the Ministry of Internal Affairs as saying. Police have been holding their line throughout the evening, attempting to extinguish fires with water cannons. After four days of protests, the center of the Ukrainian capital continues to resemble a warzone, with smoke, barricades, and debris all around. Wednesday's clashes between rioters and police intensified in the afternoon after riot police cleared Grushevskogo Street. Footage from the Ukrainian capital showed hundreds of police officers using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against the protesters. The dispersal is the largest to take place since the latest outbreak of violence began four days ago. Some clashes involved policemen snatching individual rioters from the crowd and brutally beating them. Rioters threw firecrackers, Molotov cocktails, and stones at police. Despite some episodes of police brutality, security forces largely refrained from attacking rioters. Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said he is grateful for the patience that police officers and the Berkut unit have shown while confronting rioters on Grushevskogo Street. I am grateful to the guys and Berkut, who are standing there now. I do not condone nor approve of the fact that they cleared out the students on November 30, although the right thing to do would be to criticize the person who gave out the order, Kravchuk said in a Forbes opinion piece. Now they are going through an incredible challenge: being beaten up, having stones and burning mixtures thrown at them, and they stand there and endure. Not a lot of countries have military who would tolerate such a treatment in a similar situation. The riots have reportedly left two people dead and at least 300 injured, according to local media. Ukraines Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Wednesday that more than 70 people have been detained during the unrest. Ukraine's prime minister, Nikolay Azarov, said police were not given any additional instructions on the use of force against the protesters. Conversely, procedures now in place ensure minimal use of force against even the most violent rioters. "Instructions given to law enforcement authorities were simple: avoid the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and prevent violent seizure of government buildings and institutions, Azarov said in a BBC interview. The clashes erupted after a massive rally was held in Independence Square on Sunday, where protesters spoke out against new laws adopted by the Ukrainian government last week. http://rt.com/news/ukraine-protest-us-embassy-056
  13. 21 January 2014 Last updated at 14:30 GMT The photo was tweeted on Monday A BBC photo of a men's cubicle with twin toilets at a Sochi Olympics venue has caused a Twitter storm in Russia. The picture from the Biathlon Centre tweeted by Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg was picked up by opposition leader Alexei Navalny among others. Mr Navalny queried how the budget for the games, said to be $50bn (£30bn; 1,700bn roubles), had been spent. Elsewhere, the photo caused disbelief and much hilarity, with some linking it to the recent debate over gay rights. Communal toilets at Kazan University, Russia BBC cameraman Max Lomakin snapped these communal toilets at Kazan University "Seeing double in the Gentlemen's Loo at the Olympic Biathlon Centre," our correspondent wrote in his original tweet. Retweeting the photo, Mr Navalny commented: "This is a men's toilet in a Sochi Olympics media centre for 1.5bn roubles [£27m; $45m]." "Two toilets - 28,000 roubles," wrote another blogger. "Olympic media centre - 1.5bn roubles. Global embarrassment - priceless." Others joked about Russia's controversial law on "gay propaganda", which led to calls from international campaigners to boycott February's games. "This is how they understand the needs of sexual minorities," was one quip. Noting there was one toilet roll between two in the cubicle, another tweeter wrote: "Tear off some paper before you sit down." The Biathlon Centre was completed nearly two years ago, with investment from the Russian state gas company Gazprom. "The building is one of the biggest and most comfortable structures of its kind in the world," a company representative told Russia's Interfax news agency at the time. While the sight of twin toilets is unusual in European parts of Russia, it is not unknown, as Russian journalist Nikita Likhachev revealed, blogging about the story for Russian news website Tjournal. Examples collected on his blog (in Russian) include facilities apparently to be found in other sports venues and even restaurants. One photo shows a row of planks laid over a pit in a field. "Army toilet" runs the caption. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25830617
  14. 26.01.2014 45 mins ago Fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has claimed that US government officials "want to kill me" in an exclusive interview which German television says it conducted in Moscow. German NDR television issued a further snippet ahead of a broadcast late Sunday in Europe of an exclusive interview with Snowden in which the intelligence whistleblower claims that US officials wanted him killed. "These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower," he told NDR interviewer Hubert Seipel, who said the interview took place last Thursday. Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August, referred in the interview to a report by US website BuzzFeed of explicit threats against him from unnamed Pentagon and National Security Agency (NSA) officials. The former NSA contractor is wanted by US authorities on treason charges for disclosing details of a vast intelligence operation that monitored millions of phone calls and emails across the world. The interview was aired on German ARD television, of which NDR is a member, with a German-language voice-over late on Sunday, European time. In the ARD talkshow Günter Jauch run prior to the interview's ARD broadcast, former US ambassador to Berlin John Kornblum was asked where Snowden would be in 10 years time. Kornblum said he expected Snowden would return to the United States under a deal. "I believe there will be an arrangment," Kornblum said. Industrial espionage too? In an earlier snippet released online late on Saturday by the public broadcaster NDR, Snowden claimed that the NSA was involved in industrial espionage and did not limit its espionage to issues of US national security. "If there is information at [German electronics and engineering giant] Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they'll take it," Snowden said. NDR's interviewer Seipel, in a pre-broadcast interview in German also published online by NDR, said Snowden's sole "life insurance" was that he had entrusted journalists of the New York Times, Washington Post and Britain's Guardian with the material. At regular intervals, Seipel said, these media outlets triggered a series of "small thematic bombs." 'Very carefully' selected documents "The NSA is still trying to guess, how much material it involves. At the start there was talk of 200,000, then of 600,000 and now there are around 1.7 million documents," Seipel said. Snowden had "very carefully" selected documents that rather than focusing on individual persons, focused on the structure of the US secret services and alleged "violations," Seipel said. "He has shown what happens within this apparatus, also in connection with other services." "The accusation that he has endangered the lives of thousands of soldiers or secret service employees is in my view feeble-minded," Seipel said, adding that Snowden had a "very strong" sense of justice. "That [President Barack] Obama said he was not a patriot is for him, I think, quite difficult enough." Interview arranged via 'safeguards' The interviewer said Snowden was "very precise in what he says, but naturally was also very cautious" to avoid breaching the terms of his asylum in Russia. Seipel said the NDR team conducted the exclusive interview using three cameras and a microphone after organizing the meeting using encrypted phone calls and several other "safeguard measures." On Thursday, in a question-and-answer session on the "Free Snowden" website, the fugitive ruled out returning to the United States, where he said there was no chance of a free trial. http://www.dw.de/wanted-dead-by-us-officials-snowden-tells-german-tv/a-17388431 Also see: Snowden New Interview: U.S. Spy On Foreign Companies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVW1laVQygc DW restricts "the interview" to German audience only. Youtube not publishing Uploaded "Snowden exklusiv -- Das Interview [ARD - 26.01.2014] - YouTube" This video has been removed because it is too long. Sorry about that. http: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=bLIq2tfWyvc However, Watch "Snowden Exklusiv (NDR, 26.01.14)" http://vimeo.com/85106649 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3bU8M3FgfE Original German Transcript http://www.presseportal.de/mobil/story.htx?nr=2648795 English Transcript Through Google Translator " Snowden exclusive" : the text of the interview of NDR author Hubert Seipel 26.01.2014 | 23:26 clock , NDR / The First ( ots) - NDR author Hubert Seipel has led the world's first television interview with Edward Snowden after his flight from Hong Kong. Here is the text of the 30 - minute version of the interview that the first "exclusive Snowden - the interview " under the title on Sunday night , 26 January has been shown at 23.05 clock . Free quotes when mentioning " Source: NDR" . Hubert Seipel (hereinafter abbreviated to HS) : Mr. Snowden , you have slept well the last few nights ? I 've read that you have asked for police protection. Are there any threats? Edward Snowden (hereinafter abbreviated as ES): There are significant threats , but I sleep very well. There was an article in an online portal called " buzzfeed " , were interviewed in the Pentagon officials and NSA National Security Agency . It has assured them anonymity so that they can say what they want, and who told the reporter that they want to kill me . These people - and there are government officials - have said they would chase me just like a bullet in the head or poison me when I come back from the supermarket, and watch me die then under the shower . HS : But luckily you are still alive . ES: Right, I 'm still alive and I do not have sleepless nights because I did what I thought was necessary. It was the right thing, and I will not be afraid . HS: The biggest fear that I have , as far as my revelations , you said , is that nothing changes . But meanwhile, there is a lively discussion about the position of the NSA , not only in America but also in Germany and in Brazil, and President Obama was forced to publicly justify what the NSA has since made ​​quite legally . ES: As a first reaction to the revelations , the government has set up as a kind of corral to the National Security Agency . Rather than get behind the public and to protect their rights , the politicians have brought to the security apparatus and its laws. That was an interesting way , but only the first reaction , since concessions have been made . The President has just said: "We have met the right level , there was no abuse," then he and his officials have admitted that it has effectively given abuse. There have been countless violations of the National Security Agency and other relevant bodies and authorities each year. HS : Is the talk of Obama the beginning of a serious regulation? ES: From the President's speech was clear that he wants to make minor changes in order to preserve authorities , we do not need . The President has formed a committee of officials belonging to his personal friends of members of the National Security and former members of the CIA - to conserve both from people who have every reason with these programs. But even they have found that these programs are worthless , that they have never prevented a terrorist attack in the U.S. and that they have at best a bit of benefit for other things. The Section 215 program, which is a huge data collection program - and that is mass surveillance program - has just found out that a wire transfer in the amount of $ 85,000 was discovered and stopped by a taxi driver in California. Specialists say that we do not need this type of review that we do not make these programs safely. Your maintenance is extremely expensive , and they are worthless . Experts say that you can change it. The National Security Agency is subject solely to the President . He can finish their action at any time or initiate a change. HS: President Obama has admitted that the NSA collects billions of data and stores . ES: Every time you call , write an email , transfer something , go with a mobile phone bus or dragging anywhere a card through a reader , you leave a trace , and the government has decided that it is a good idea , the everything to gain with these programs. Everything , even if you have never been suspected of a crime. Usually, the state goes to a judge who told him that someone is suspected of having committed a particular crime , there is an arrest warrant , and only then they use the official authority for the investigation. Today, the government is their authority and an already , before any investigation begins . HS : You have triggered this debate. The name of Edward Snowden now stands for the whistleblower in the Internet age . Until last summer, you have worked for the NSA and in that time you have secretly thousands of confidential documents from the NSA collected all over the world. What was the defining moment - or was it a longer period - why did you do it ? ES : I would say , a crucial point was when I saw how the director of National Intelligence , James Clapper , has lied under oath before Congress . There is no salvation for a secret service , who believes he can lie to the public and lawmakers who trust him and regulate his actions. When I saw that, it meant to me that I can not go back. There was no doubt . In addition, there was the creeping realization that no one would do differently. The public had a right to know of these programs. The public had a right to know what the government is doing in their name , and what the government is doing to the public. But neither the one nor the other , we were allowed to discuss . We were forbidden even to speak with our elected representatives about it or discuss these programs , and that is dangerous . The only test that we had came from a secret court , the Court Fizer , which is a kind of vicarious agent . If this includes when you go to work every day and sits down at his desk , one is aware of his power. That you could even listen to the President of the United States or a federal judge , and if you proceed with caution , no one will know because the only way how the NSA uncovers abuse, self- displays are . HS: For that matter, we speak not only of the NSA. There is a multilateral agreement for cooperation between the intelligence agencies. This alliance is known as the Five Eyes. Which intelligence agencies and countries belong to this alliance , and what is the goal? ES: The Five Eyes alliance is a kind of artifact from the period after the Second World War in which the English-speaking countries were the major powers , which came together to cooperate and share the cost of the infrastructure of the intelligence services. So we have the GCHQ in England , we have the NSA in the United States , and we have Canada C -Sec , we have the Australian Signals Intelligence Directorate and we have the New Zealand DSD Defence Signals Directorate The result has been for decades a kind of supra-national intelligence organization , the does not comply with the laws of their own countries. HS: In many countries , as well as in America, it is organizations like the NSA legally not allowed to spy on the citizens in their own country , the British officially allowed to spy on everyone , just not the British, but the NSA could spy on the British and vice versa so that they can exchange data . And so they follow the law officially . ES: If you ask the governments immediately thereafter , they will deny it and refer to the Agreement between the members of the Five Eyes , in which is that it does not spy on the citizens of the other country , but there are some sticking points . One is that the collection of data in them does not count as espionage. The GCHQ gathers an incredible amount of data a British citizen , just like the National Security Agency collects a tremendous amount of data on U.S. citizens. They claim that they monitor any targeted person within this data. You are not looking for U.S. or British citizens. In addition, the agreement , which says that the British are not U.S. citizens and the United States monitor any British citizen , is not legally binding. The actual contract document has separately then that the agreement is not legally binding . This Agreement may at any time be circumvented or broken. So if the NSA wants to spy on a British citizen , she can spy on him , and the data even left the British government , which shall not spy on its own citizens . Thus there is a kind of trade dynamics , but this is not open, it is more of a nudge and a wink . In addition, the monitoring and the abuse does not happen only when people look at the data , it is done by people collect the data at all. HS : How close is the cooperation of the German secret service BND with the NSA and the Five Eyes ? ES: I would describe as closely . In a written interview I did it first so expressed that the German and American intelligence go to bed together . I say this because they not only share information , but also share tools and infrastructure. They work against common targets , and therein lies a great danger. One of the major programs , serving in the National Security Agency to abuse , is the "X Key Score" . It is a technique with which you can search through all the data that is stored around the world every day of the NSA. HS: What would you do in their place with this instrument? ES: You could read every e -mail around the world . From each , of which one has the e- mail address, you can watch the traffic on any website , on any computer , any laptop that does one locate , you can follow from place to place all over the world . It is a one stop shop , over which one gets to all the information the NSA. Moreover, one can use X key score to track individuals. Let's say I 've ever seen and you found interesting , what you do , or you have access to something that interests me , let's say you work in a large German companies , and I want to get access to this network. I can your user name to find out on a website on a form somewhere , I can find out your real name , I can pursue relationships with your friends , and I can make something that is called a fingerprint , that is a network activity that is unique to you . That is, no matter where you go in the world , no matter where you try to get your online presence, to hide your identity , the NSA to find you. And everyone who is entitled to use this instrument or by the NSA shares its software can do the same. Germany is a country that has access to X Key score. HS : That sounds pretty scary . The question is : Returns the data BND German citizens to the NSA ? ES: Whether the BND does it directly or consciously - at least the NSA receives German data. Whether they are delivered , about that I may speak only when it was reported in the Shun about it because it was classified as secret , and it is dear to me if journalists decide what is in the public interest and what should be published. However, it is no secret that every country in the world has the data of its citizens in the NSA . Millions and millions and millions of data connections from the daily life of the Germans, if they use their phone , send SMS messages , visit web pages , buy things online - all this ends up at NSA . And since it seems likely that the BND is aware in some way. Whether he really actively provides information to , I can not tell . HS: The BND argues that something be done only by chance and that our filter does not work . ES : Right. They discuss two things. They say that they collect and filter data . That is, if the NSA a secret server installed in a German telecommunications provider or a German router hacking and traffic redirects in such a way that they can browse it , it is said: " When I realize that a German speaks with another German , I listen to " , but how will you know? You could say "well, these people speak the German language , this IP address appears to lead by a German company to another German company" , but that is not correct. And who would not drop all the traffic , because they are so get at people who are interested , the active use in Germany German lines of communication . If they say they do not spy on Germans intentionally , then so do not think that they do not collect German data , they do not mean that no records are made ​​or stolen. A promise , in which one crosses fingers behind his back , it can not rely on. HS: What about other European countries such as Norway and Sweden? We have a lot of underwater cables that run through the Baltic Sea . ES: This is a kind of extension of the same idea. If the NSA does not collect information on German citizens in Germany , it does it then , as soon as she leaves the German borders ? The answer is " yes". The NSA can intercept any communication that runs over the Internet , at various points . Maybe they see that in Germany , perhaps in Sweden , perhaps in Norway or Finland , perhaps in England , and perhaps in the United States. At every single place that runs through a German communication , it is intercepted and stored. HS: Let's talk about our southern neighbors , Italy , France and Spain? ES: It's the same deal worldwide . HS: NSA Spying at Siemens , Mercedes and other successful companies to use their advantage in technology and business for their own benefit ? ES : I again do not want to prejudge the journalists , but what I can say is : There is no doubt that the United States operate industrial espionage. If there is information at Siemens , from which they think that they are for the national interests of advantage, but not for the national security of the United States , they will chase and the information they get. HS: There is an old proverb that says " If anything is possible, it is done ." Does the NSA , which is technically possible? ES: The theme of the president has addressed last year . Then he said , just because we can do something - and there was a question that had been tapped the phone of Angela Merkel - just because we can do something does not mean we should do it too, and that is exactly what happened. The technical possibilities that lie in low safety standards of Internet protocols and mobile communication networks, were of intelligence used to create systems that see everything. HS: Nothing has the German government more angry than the fact that the NSA has apparently tapped over the last ten years, the home phone to German Chancellor Merkel. Suddenly the invisible monitoring combined with a known face and not with this opaque , shady terrorist background. Now Obama has promised to snoop no longer with Mrs. Merkel, which raises the question "Does the NSA intercepted already previous governments , including former Chancellor and when : when and how long they did it " ? ES: This is a particularly difficult question for me because there is information that necessarily have to be in the public interest in my opinion . However, as I already said , I would rather that journalists look at the material and decide whether the value of this information to the public is more important than the damage that the publication for the reputation of the members of the government means having issued this surveillance. What I can say is that we know that was monitored Angela Merkel of the National Security Agency . The question is , how logical it is to assume that it is the only member of the government , which was monitored. How likely is it that it is the only known German face, to which the National Security Agency has taken care of ? I would say it is not very likely that someone who cares about intentions of the German government only monitors Merkel and not their advisers , no other known members of the government , no minister or even members of municipal governments. HS: How do you get a young man from Elizabeth City , North Carolina at the age of 30 years, such a position in such a sensitive area ? ES: That's a very difficult question. Basically, I would say that the dangers of privatization of public tasks be identified. I used to work as a government employee for the Central Intelligence Agency , but I worked a lot more frequently than contractor in a private setting . This means that private , for-profit companies take over sovereign functions such as espionage , reconnaissance, infiltration of foreign systems. And anyone who can convince the private sector firms that he has the necessary qualifications , is set . Supervision is minimal and there is hardly tested . HS: Were you one of those classic computer kids , which has been sitting with bloodshot eyes the whole night in front of a computer, 12 or 15 years old and her father knocked on the door and said: "Do finally out of the light! " If you purchased your knowledge this way? ES: I definitely had - let's say - a deeply informal education, as far as my computer and electronics training. This has always been fascinating to me . Well, the description that the parents sent me to bed , it is already true . HS: If you look at the few public data of their lives , you discover that you are obviously in May 2004 wanted to join the special forces , to fight in Iraq. What has driven then ? Special forces , that is violently struggling and probably also kill . Have you ever been in Iraq? ES : Yes. What is interesting in terms of the special forces , but the fact that they really are not responsible for the direct contact for direct fights. Rather, they are intended to act forces reinforcing. They are used behind enemy lines . This is a special unit . It aims to help the local population to resist , and support the U.S. Armed Forces. I then thought for a fundamentally decent affair. In retrospect, the arguments for the use in Iraq were insufficiently justified with the result that all parties emerged from the damaged thing. HS: What happened after your adventure continues ? Did you stay there ? ES: No, I broke the legs in training and was discharged. HS: In other words, so it was a short adventure ... ES: ... Yes , a short one. HS : 2007 They were stationed for the CIA in Geneva, Switzerland . Why did you go to the CIA ? ES : I do not think I can say that. HS : Then we forget the question. But why the CIA ? ES : I think that I thus wanted to continue as effectively as possible to serve the public good. It is also in my other activities for the state in which I wanted to use my technical skills in the most difficult places I could find . And that's what gave me the CIA. HS: If you look at the so look what you've done: Special Forces CIA , NSA . This is not necessarily the way for a human or whistleblowers. What happened? ES: I think it shows , no matter how hard we strive to secure the state and is loyal to him , no matter how strongly you believe in the government's arguments , as it has been with me during the Iraq war of the case - you can learn and detect a difference between a reasonable for a state action and an actual wrongdoing. And I think I realized that a red line had been crossed. HS: Are you working at a private company called Booze Alan Hamilton for the NSA . The company is one of the big players in the business. What is the advantage to hire private companies to carry out a central task for the sovereign state? ES: The practice of allocating security authorities of the United States is a complicated matter . It is determined by various interests. Firstly, the number of direct employees of the State should be limited , on the other hand require the lobbyists of wealthy companies such as financial Booze Alan Hamilton took its toll . This creates a situation influence the policies of government in the private companies. And whose interests are very different from the interests of the general public . The consequences could be observed in Booze Alan Hamilton, where individuals can access millions of official acts. You can always leave the company. No reliability, no control. The government did not even know that the were gone. HS: In the end they ended up here in Russia. And the intelligence community suspects you that you have made a deal here . Asylum against secret information . ES: The head of the working group that examined my case , said in December that there is no evidence that I could get from outside help or even been instructed from the outside. I also made ​​a deal to carry out my mission. I worked alone . This is indeed the case . I worked alone , I needed help from anyone , I have no foreign governments any connections and I'm not a spy for Russia, China or any other country. If it is true that I am a traitor , who am I supposed to have betrayed ? I have everything that I know the American public , the American journalist given . If this is to be considered as treason , men should really ask who they work for . The public is , after all, their boss , not their enemy . HS: After your revelations , no European country was willing to take you . Where you have applied for asylum ? ES: The exact list I have not in mind because there were so many , but in any case France, Germany and the UK. Several European countries , all of which , unfortunately, felt it important to support the United States the political interests and do the right thing . HS : A response to the NSA spying is that countries such as Germany to do about thoughts to establish their own national networks to Internet companies are forced to keep data in their own country . ES: It will not stop them to continue their work , the NSA . Let's put it this way : The NSA goes where the data is . If she manages to gather news from the telecommunications networks of China, it probably will succeed her, get at Facebook messages in Germany . Ultimately , the solution is to put everything not in a walled garden . It is much better to back up data on an international level , as if everyone is trying the data back and one that tries to . The transfer of data is not the solution . The solution is to save the data. HS: President Obama are the messages this revelation at the moment seems relatively unimportant . He seems - along with the NSA - to be much more interested to take the bearer of this news. Obama has repeatedly asked the Russian president to make your delivery. Putin has rejected it looks like , as you will spend the rest of your life here in Russia. Is there a solution for this problem? ES : I think that it is becoming increasingly clear that these revelations have done no harm , but rather serve the public good . It will be difficult to continue a campaign against someone whom the public the opinion prevails that he is working for the public good . HS: In the New York Times had an editorial called for in the grace for you recently . The headline : "Edward Snowden whistleblower " and I quote : "The public was informed about how the agency exceeds the limits of its powers and abused. " And then it says : "President Obama should instruct his employees to set the slander Mr. Snowden's an end and to give him an incentive to come home ." Did you get a call? ES : I have yet to get a call from the White House and I do not sit on the phone and wait . Nevertheless, I would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can bring this matter to a mutually satisfactory way to the end . I believe that there are cases in which what is legal is not necessarily right. There are enough examples in history in America and Germany , where the country's government acted within the law and still did wrong. HS: President Obama is obviously not quite convinced , he said , that you have committed three offenses. He said : " If you , Edward Snowden , stand by what you have done , you should come back to America and to answer with the help of a lawyer before the court ." Is this the solution? ES: What he did not say is that these are offenses for which I can not be heard before a court . I can not defend myself before a public court or convince the jury the fact that I had acted in their interests. The Espionage Act dates from 1918. Its goal was never to pursue journalistic sources , ie people that make the newspapers get information of general public interest . Rather, it was directed against people who sell the documents to foreign governments , blow up bridges, sabotage communication , and not against people who act in the public interest. It is significant that the President says that I am to answer before a court , even if he knows that such a process would only be a show trial . The conversation has arisen in the context of NDR documentation that will show the first in the spring. Information also available at www.NDR.de / snowden Press contact: NDR / The First Press and Information Iris Bents Phone: 040/4156 - 2304 Fax: 040/4156 - 2199 i.bents @ ndr.de http://www.ndr.de
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