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US reportedly threatened to withhold intelligence if Germany gave Snowden asylum

US reportedly threatened to withhold intelligence if Germany gave Snowden asylum

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There's now a pretty clear reason why Edward Snowden hasn't found asylum in Germany; the US government reportedly threatened to keep German officials in the dark on critical intelligence if they took in the NSA whistleblower. According to The Intercept, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel confirmed as much this week, saying, "They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters."

The aggressive move didn't apply just to asylum, as Gabriel said that the US didn't want Berlin making any travel arrangements for Snowden to visit under any circumstances. Going against this would result in Germany being "cut off" from intelligence that could theoretically help prevent a terrorist attack or shut down other threats to public safety, Gabriel said.

Germany faced being cut off from critical intelligence

In recent years, the NSA has run a massive operation in Germany — a central hub of its European intelligence efforts — and was also accused of monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. Last July, tensions escalated when Germany ordered the top CIA officer in Berlin to exit the country after arresting a German intelligence agent accused of providing secrets to the US in exchange for cash. Combined with Snowden's disclosures in 2013, the sequence of events has created major friction between the US and Germany.

But both countries have vowed to maintain an open line when it comes to battling terrorism — a pact that the US is apparently willing to ignore if Snowden reaches German soil and isn't immediately extradited. Of course, as The Intercept notes, Gabriel's story could also be meant to instill fear in the public, making a clear connection between Snowden and impending danger should he ever be granted asylum.