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Snowden ready to go to Germany under asylum as his letter to Berlin revealed

Published time: November 01, 2013 14:00
Edited time: November 01, 2013 17:03

German Greens lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele points at the signature on a letter he received from fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, at a news conference in Berlin, November 1, 2013 (Reuters / Tobias Schwarz)

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NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, is ready to go to Germany and testify over the US wiretapping of Angela Merkel’s phone on condition of granting him political asylum, a German MP who met Snowden has said. He also revealed the text of Snowden’s letter.

Former contractor of the US National Security Agency, Snowden on Friday indicated he is ready to testify over the facts about the American snooping revealed in leaked documents, but only after his “humanitarian situation” is resolved, according to a letter handed over by Snowden to German Greens lawmaker, Hans-Christian Stroebele.

“Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense. However, speaking the truth is not a crime,” Snowden said in his letter to German officials.

The whistleblower added he is “confident” that, with the support of the international community, the US government will have to renounce its “harmful behavior.”

Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is wanted in the US, said he will be able to “cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents, as appropriate and in accordance with the law,” as soon as the details of his situation are resolved.

Addressing the German government, Snowden said he looks forward to speaking on the facts he revealed on Germany, also thanking Berlin for its “efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all.”

Photo from twitter.com user @MdB_Stroebele

Speaking to journalists on Friday, Stroebele revealed details on Snowden’s conditions of cooperating with the Germans. 

Snowden is ready “to contribute to clarification of [US] spying activities,” particularly of those he sees as “serious crimes,” but he cannot go on a single trip to Germany and back in Moscow, the German MP said. 

Should Snowden leave Russia’s borders, his refugee status would expire, and he would not be able to come back, Stroebele explained. This has also been confirmed by Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena.

“If there are any questions to Mr. Snowden on behalf of Germany, this process could be resolved through the existing international treaties between Germany and Russia, so he doesn’t need to travel there to testify,” Kucherena told RT.

“Snowden would come to Germany only if he is guaranteed he could then stay there. So in case the [German Federal] Minister of the Interior could ensure safe passage and provide security, Snowden would be ready to travel to Germany,” the German MP said.

Moreover, Snowden has some “reservations” about the alternative of German officials coming and interrogating him in Russia, Stroebele added. According to the lawmaker, “such a state act on the Russian territory would bring forth a lot of problems.”

Stroebele stressed, Snowden has in no way appeared to be “anti-American.” The first thing Snowden said as they talked was that “he would rather put the facts on the table before the US Congress.” He also noted that he has been particularly careful to ensure no US citizens come to harm due to his revelations, Stroebele said.

The former US spy refused to discuss his security with the German lawmaker. However, when asked if he can go out shopping, Snowden replied “yes.” 

Bundestag ‘gladly accepts’ Snowden’s offer

The Federal Government of Germany reacted to Stroebele’s meeting with Snowden – of which they said they weren’t notified in advance – by calling an extraordinary Bundestag session.

The German Federal Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich, announced that his government is interested in Snowden’s testimonies.

“We will find ways, when Mr. Snowden is ready, to make his talk with the German officials possible,” Friedrich was quoted as saying by German media.

“If the message means that Mr. Snowden wants to give us information, then we gladly accept that,” the CSU party politician said, adding that “every clarification, any information and facts that we can obtain is good.”