Journalist Glenn Greenwald has refused to speak to a German parliamentary inquiry on the NSA scandal. He said the Bundestag's decision not to interview Edward Snowden is indicative of the committee's "empty symbolism."
Greenwald on Friday said he had turned down an invitation to testify before the German parliament later this summer about the NSA spying scandal. The US journalist said that while he was "very supportive of any attempt by the German Parliament to conduct a serious investigation into NSA spying on Germans," the existing Bundestag inquiry was not that.
"Unfortunately, German politicians have demonstrated, with their refusal to interview the key witness in person - Edward Snowden - that they care far more about not upsetting the US than they do about conducting a serious investigation," he said in a statement.
Greenwald (pictured above) had been expected to speak to the Bundestag on September 11 via video link from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he lives.
Lawmakers hesitant on Snowden
Reports, many of which were written by Greenwald, based on Snowden-provided documents, have over the past year revealed the far-reaching extent of US espionage on German soil - ranging from mass internet data collection to tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
Despite harsh words for Washington from German lawmakers, there has been hesitancy on the part of Berlin to bring Snowden to the country.
German opposition politicians from the Green and Left parties for months lobbied to have Snowden appear before the Bundestag to discuss the scope of US spying in the country. However, the ruling coalition has thus far refused , with the apparent justification it would harm German-American relations. The US has issued an arrest warrant for the 31-year-old whistleblower.
Parliamentarians from Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and their junior coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats, have said they want an "informal discussion" with Snowden in Moscow before a formal hearing on German soil.
'Illusion of an investigation'
"I am not willing to participate in a ritual that is intended to cast the illusion of an investigation, but which is actually designed to avoid any real investigation, placate the German public with empty symbolism, and keep the culprit - the US Government - happy," said Greenwald.
Should the inquiry in the future decide to interview Snowden, Greenwald added, he would reconsider his decision.
The Greens representative on the parliamentary committee, Konstantin von Notz, said that Greenwald could "undoubtedly contribute significantly to clarifying the largest surveillance and spying agency scandal of all time."
Greenwald's decision was "bitter, but quite understandable," von Notz added.
Edward Snowden is currently living in Russia on a temporary asylum visa, which expired on Thursday. He is expected to be able remain in the country until authorities make a decision on his application for extension.
dr/jr (dpa, AFP)