It's basically scripted out and one can be amused at what will develop over the next twelve months.
Germany's high court has ruled that the committee seeking evidence on the NSA via all the Snowden information....can finally have Snowden come to Germany and give testimony here. The Merkel government had said that this was not going to happen.....well....it was taken to court and the court says Snowden can come.
What the Federal Court of Justice said was that Germany must establish pre-conditions, which includes "effective protection of the witness". In effect, they are saying that even if the US asks for Germany to hand him over.....they must find ways to avoid that.
The humor to all of this is that Snowden has noted on more than one occasion that he really wants to give evidence to this committee.....but he won't do it if the committee were to visit Moscow, and he won't do it by Skype or teleconferencing. So in effect, he's using them about as much as they intend to use him.
The last extradition treaty between the US and Germany was signed in 1978. The US Senate passed it....so it's absolutely official. There are thirty-three offenses that you could commit and the treaty would fall into effect. Oddly, they wrote a line or two into it that political offenses would not work with this treaty. So, my guess is that the Germans will say that the charges against Snowden are more politically related, and thus they won't cooperate in handing him over.
I read through the whole extradition treaty. The thirty-three offenses ran through the normal bunch....murder, assault, kidnapping, etc. Amazingly enough....there is nothing listed that really covers Snowden 'crime'. Robbery is listed, and if the US had Snowden on theft of secrets....it might work, but it's a weak usage of the extradition treaty.
So, here's my script for the events.
Germany will spend two months planning this out and send the invitation to Snowden after the swearing in ceremony of President Trump.
I would lean more toward April or May for this to happen but it might happen in mid-January.
Immediately upon arrival, the US will ask for his arrest, and the Germans will refuse. Some blunt statement will be read to the Germans....that "friends" don't act in this fashion.
The US could go to the next step....of using the EU court to force Germany to hand him over. The US might go and suggest that the whole extradition treaty is voided and will have to be redone.....while suggesting they won't release any German-wanted criminals back to Germany. It'd be a silly game to say that but it's better than the next step.
Meanwhile, the state-run news people will be blasting away on Snowden comments and the evil NSA. This being an election year.....it would go and help three particular parties (SPD, Linke Party and the Greens). Oddly, all three are banded in an agreement being worked up already (yeah imagine the idea that idea from two months ago works perfect with Snowden in the mix).
At some point, I would suggest that WikiLeaks will come out with a listing of emails between the politicians and the state-run news people.....giving them the scripted topics and words. Nothing much will be said via state-run TV about this, but most of the public will be aware of the dishonesty within a week after the emails are released.
As we progress into summer and the usage of the Snowden 'showcase' to harm the Merkel campaign....an odd thing happens. While Merkel's party is harmed by this Snowden business.....so are the SPD, Linke Party and Greens. The public trust is heading south. State-run TV will blame 'fake news'.
To be blunt, Snowden isn't much of a topic with 95-percent of the German public. Most don't care about the NSA episode or this fake hyped agenda business. They want action on immigration, integration and asylum.
By mid-summer, Tump finally dumps on the German government....US installations around Germany will close. Troops moving out. Some will relocate to Poland. Some to the UK. Some back to the states. The German news media will try to suggest that this is bizarre and crazy behavior of Trump, but a majority of Germans are looking squarely at Berlin (all of the parties will get blamed).
If the AfD was looking for some turbo-blast toward September's election.....the Snowden affair and the reaction by the US will work into their favor. You could be looking at 25-to-28 percent of the public voting AfD because of this worked-up fake gimmick with Snowden.
Back in the 1980s....this game of using Snowden probably would have worked.....but the general public has gotten smarter....the news media more stupid....and social media will be the central part of this whole thing.
Merkel might still squeeze out some win, but the damage done by this 'theater-act' will last on for a decade. Lack of trust across all lines will be the long-term gain from this situation.
And Snowden? I think he will end up in some witness-protection program in Germany.....residing in some small unknown town in eastern Germany. Told to just stay around the farm-house and tend to a garden.....he will ask why he can't go and live in Berlin.....appear on state-run TV forums....and have a real life as a fake political promi.
So, settle back. 2017 will be a mighty interesting year.