Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition are blocking an opposition bid to bring Edward Snowden to Germany to testify, saying the German government won’t grant him safe passage.
Inviting Snowden to Germany would harm relations with the U.S. and probably force Merkel’s government to extradite him to face U.S. espionage charges for unveiling National Security Agency data on surveillance, Gerda Hasselfeldt, caucus leader of Merkel’s Christian Social Union ally, said in an interview.
“If Mr. Snowden came to Germany, I see the risk that he would have to be extradited to the U.S. right after his testimony,” Hasselfeldt said. Trans-Atlantic relations “wouldn’t exactly be improved” either, she said.
Snowden’s leak of NSA documents last year let to a rift between the U.S. and Germany when news reports of mass surveillance included allegations that the U.S. agency had tapped Merkel’s mobile phone. In Washington last week, Merkel said she and President Barack Obama still have “differences of opinion” on the scale of U.S. surveillance and intelligence cooperation between the two countries.
A parliamentary panel investigating what German media have dubbed the “NSA affair” voted yesterday to seek testimony from Merkel, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former cabinet members. It will also invite journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reported on Snowden’s allegations, and officials from Facebook Inc. (FB), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple Inc. (AAPL)
The panel also agreed to seek testimony from Snowden, though coalition lawmakers blocked an opposition effort to bring the former contractor in person.
Opposition lawmakers on the committee from Green and Left parties said its mandate requires Snowden’s presence. Snowden offered last October to testify to German authorities when he met a Green lawmaker, Hans-Christian Stroebele, in Moscow.
Testimony by video link would be as valid a personal appearance, Hasselfeldt said in the interview yesterday.
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