Garzon opts not to represent Snowden
MOSCOW, June 27 (RAPSI) - Former Spanish judge and present senior counsel for Wikileaks Baltasar Garzon announced his law firm ILOCAD had decided not to defend NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in a statement released to RAPSI by the law firm Wednesday.
In the statement, Garzon explained: "This serves to state that the Law firm ILOCAD has decided not to represent Mr. Snowden, whose whereabouts are unknown. We continue to represent Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks as senior legal counsel in the defence of the fundamental right to freedom of information and expression. In this vein, we are satisfied with the recently approved draft resolution by the Committee Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. It states that those who disclose criminal acts in the public interest should be protected from retaliation and persecution from those who commit them."
The firm is presently unable to provide RAPSI with information on the reasons underlying its decision to refrain from defending Snowden.
On Monday Wikileaks had released a statement by Garzon announcing that Snowden had reached out to him for legal advice. At the time, Garzon explained that he needed more time to familiarize himself with the case before making a decision. Garzon stated at the time: "before making any decision in this regard I have requested more information that will allow me to study and assess the case in depth as well as to speak to Mr. Snowden. Therefore, I do not currently represent Mr. Edward Snowden. I do defend the right of freedom of expression and freedom of information. The same rights I defend in the Assange and WikiLeaks cases and in other cases where the release of information that reveals criminality is met with the persecution of those who expose it."
Garzon achieved international fame during his career as a judge in Spain. According to JURIST Legal News & Research, this owes largely to his extensive use of universal jurisdiction to bring a number of high-profile cases against the likes of Osama bin Laden and Augusto Pinochet. According to Spanish news agency El Pais, Garzon was banned from serving on the bench for 11 years in 2012 after having been convicted on charges connected with illegal jailhouse wiretapping.
Garzon now serves as director of the law firm ILOCAD.
Snowden dominated international headlines this month after claiming responsibility for having leaked top-secret documents to The Guardian, detailing the National Security Agency's (NSA) capacity to access the systems of such major US companies as Google, Facebook, and Apple. Google, Facebook, and Apple have all denied having provided direct or backdoor access to their servers.
After the initial leak, Snowden went on to expose various other types of intelligence, including claims to The Guardian that the NSA intercepted communications from Medvedev's delegation during the 2009 G20 summit in London, as well as claims during an interview with the South China Morning Post that the United States had been hacking into Chinese computers for years.
On June 14, the US authorities filed a criminal complaint advancing three charges, each stipulating a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. He has been charged with the theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and the willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person, according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors.