SPIEGEL: Mr le Carré, who is Edward Snowden – a hero or a traitor? Has he made our lives safer or has he played into the hands of Al-Qaeda terrorists – as the chief of the British foreign intelligence service says he has?
Le Carré: First of all: well done lad! Snowden has taken what was surely a very difficult and life-determining decision: he has broken laws and betrayed his employer to unveil a much more serious breach of the law by the NSA itself. I wish he would get a medal, or at least win back his freedom.
SPIEGEL: That will not happen.
Le Carré: Right. I don’t think he’s in good hands in Putin’s Russia, and I think it is highly unlikely that he’ll get state asylum in Germany either. It would be a great gesture of your government, but the influence of Washington is too big.
SPIEGEL: John Kornblum, a former American ambassador to Germany has claimed nothing would have happened to Snowden if he had relied on the American Whistle-blower Law and turned to his superiors.
Le Carré: Utter nonsense. On principle an intelligence agency cannot let a whistle-blower go unpunished. So, Mr Snowden, make no illusions! They will persecute and probably even catch you, because you have committed a mortal sin – You have made the U.S. government and corporate America look like idiots. And for that they think the death penalty is too lenient.
SPIEGEL: Were you surprised when you heard of the extent of the NSA program, and its monitoring of even the German Chancellor?
Le Carré: I was aware how the Americans skim everything. But I do not understand what it is supposed to bring, the cost of the evaluation is disproportionate to the result. And of course it is illegal. The Americans seem to have given up all of their hard-won freedoms. We live in extraordinary times – and what most amazes me is how calmly we take all of these monstrosities