BERLIN — Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who was granted asylum by Russia, has appealed to Washington to stop treating him like a traitor for revealing that the United States was eavesdropping on its allies, a German politician who met with Snowden said Friday.
The appeal came in a letter from Snowden carried to Berlin by Hans-Christian Strobele, a veteran member of the Green Party in the German parliament, who said that he and two journalists for German media had met with Snowden and a person described as his assistant at an undisclosed location in or near Moscow on Thursday for almost three hours.
In his letter, Snowden, 30, also appealed for clemency. He said his disclosures about U.S. intelligence activity at home and abroad, which he called "systematic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act," had had positive effects.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not respond directly to Snowden's appeal, but said the U.S. position "has not changed."
Strobele, 74, is a seasoned left-wing defense lawyer and the longest-serving member of the parliamentary committee that oversees German intelligence. At a packed news conference held after his return to Berlin, he said he had been trying to visit Snowden since the summer, when the American arrived in Moscow in search of asylum. After a number of countries — including Germany — said that Snowden could not apply for such protection from the Moscow airport where he was taking sanctuary at the time, Russia granted him a one-year asylum Aug. 1.
Strobele said he had been contacted about going to Moscow late last week after Berlin said that Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone might have been tapped by U.S. intelligence agents. He declined to elaborate further, but said he had had no dealings with Russian authorities or the German Embassy in Moscow.
He parried requests to reveal more while appealing to the governments and citizens of Germany, France and the United States to stop treating Snowden as a criminal.