German NSA investigative panel to allow Snowden to testify | News | DW | 08.05.2014

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German NSA investigative panel to allow Snowden to testify

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is to testify before a German panel investigating the activities of the spy agency. However, the panel has not yet determined whether he may travel to Berlin for the hearing.

German lawmakers agreed to call on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to provide public testimony. The parliamentary committee, comprised of representatives from Germany's four parties in the Bundestag, announced the decision on Thursday after deliberating over the matter for roughly two hours.

The vote was unanimous, according to Martina Renner, the chairperson of Germany's Left party for the special committee.

Lawmakers involved in the formal inquiry of NSA activities did not decide on Thursday, however, where the long-awaited hearing would take place.

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition have proposed calling for Snowden to submit to questioning in a video conference from his current location in Moscow. However, members of the opposition – the Greens and the Left – want Snowden to come to Germany.

Conservatives opposed

Angela Merkel's conservatives are strictly opposed to this, fearing that it would impact negatively on Berlin's relations with Washington, which has put out an international arrest warrant for Edward Snowden and would demand Germany extradite him to the US once he sets foot on German soil.

Merkel's coalition furthermore proposed the tentative date of July 3, Left party chairperson Renner said on Thursday.

Revelations of the NSA amassing phone data from private German citizens, as well as tapping Chancellor Merkel's cell phone have outraged the German public. The incident has also damaged US-German diplomatic relations, coinciding with efforts by the EU and US to agree on a transatlantic trade pact.

Snowden, who first leaked the information to the media last June, is still wanted by the US on treason charges.

kms/rg (AFP, dpa)