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Some European counties have much stronger privacy laws than does the U.S. In Germany, where criticism of the NSA's surveillance programs has been particularly vocal, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger likened the spying outlined in the Der Spiegel report to "methods used by enemies during the Cold War." German federal prosecutors are examining whether the reported U.S. electronic surveillance programs broke German laws.
Green Party leaders in the European Parliament called for an immediate investigation into the claims and called for existing U.S.-EU agreements on the exchange of bank transfer and passenger record information to be canceled. Both programs have been labeled as unwarranted infringements of citizens' privacy by left-wing and libertarian lawmakers in Europe.
The dispute also has jeopardized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and some of it its most unreliable allies, including China, Russia and Ecuador.
Snowden, who tuned 30 last week, revealed himself as the document leaker in June interviews in Hong Kong, but fled to Russia before China's government could turn him over to U.S. officials. Snowden is now believed to be holed up in a transit zone in Moscow's international airport, where Russian officials say they have no authority to catch him since he technically has not crossed immigration borders.
It's also believed Snowden is seeking political asylum from Ecuador. But Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa signaled in an AP interview Sunday that it's unlikely Snowden will end up there. Correa portrayed Russia as entirely the masters of Snowden's fate, and the Kremlin said it will take public opinion and the views of human rights activists into account when considering his case. That could lay the groundwork for Snowden to seek asylum in Russia.
Outgoing National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said U.S. and Russian law enforcement officials are discussing how to deal with Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges. "The sooner that this can be resolved, the better," Donilon said in an interview on CNN.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has a different take on what to do with Snowden. "I think it's pretty good that he's stuck in the Moscow airport," Pelosi, D-Calif., said on NBC's "Meet the Press." ''That's ok with me. He can stay there, that's fine."