German lawmakers want to interview Snowden

AP News
Posted: May 08, 2014 8:47 AM

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers agreed Thursday to ask NSA leaker Edward Snowden to testify in their inquiry into surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Snowden's documents showing that the NSA targeted Merkel's cell phone caused an uproar in Germany. That prompted the chancellor's governing coalition and opposition lawmakers in March to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the scope of the NSA spying.

The committee decided Thursday to try to question Snowden directly, German news agency dpa reported. Snowden has reportedly indicated he is willing to testify, but it is not yet clear whether the committee will invite him to Germany or interview him via video conference.

Opposition parties insist Snowden should be brought to Berlin as a key witness, while Merkel's governing coalition has opposed that. The U.S. has revoked Snowden's passport, meaning he would need the government's help to enter Germany. He has been granted asylum in Russia.

Following the committee's decision, Germany's top counterintelligence official told reporters that regardless of where he is questioned, Snowden is unlikely to shed much light on the question of U.S. espionage activities in Germany.

"I can't imagine that he, in his function as a data administrator ... would be able to tell us very much about the content" of the files he leaked, said Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

The German government warned last week that inviting Snowden to appear before parliament in person could harm Germany's relations with the United States. Maassen declined to say whether he had received any direct warning that intelligence cooperation with the United States could be affected, but noted that currently cooperation with U.S. intelligence agencies is of "a high level."

Maassen said the fact that Snowden was able to take large amounts of data with him when he left the United States highlighted a security problem within the U.S. intelligence.


Frank Jordans contributed to this story.