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EU parliament votes to invite Snowden to testify over NSA spying

Published time: December 12, 2013 20:12
Edited time: December 15, 2013 14:48
A journalist looks at a display with a picture of former CIA employee Edward Snowden. The photo was taken during his meeting with human rights organizations at Sheremetyevo airport. (RIA Novosti / Pavel Lisicyn)

A journalist looks at a display with a picture of former CIA employee Edward Snowden. The photo was taken during his meeting with human rights organizations at Sheremetyevo airport. (RIA Novosti / Pavel Lisicyn)

The European Parliament has voted to formally invite former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden to provide official court testimony on NSA spying, in the face of overwhelming concern from conservative MEPs.

European conservatives seemed reluctant to pay full attention to the possibility of the hearing on Wednesday. The European People's Party (EPP), which is a conglomerate of center-right parties, had displayed a great deal of concern over the possibility of inviting Snowden for a hearing, suggesting that he could potentially throw the transatlantic trade agreement with the US into disarray.

Snowden could give his testimony via video link in early January if he provides answers in time. On Thursday, it was decided that questions would be assembled for the whistleblower and forwarded to his lawyer. Approximately two questions from each political group will be put to Snowden.

“Snowden is due to give pre-recorded answers to questions posed by MEPs, with no opportunity for Members to challenge his assertions or cross-examine him. His appearance before the parliament's 'NSA inquiry' could be as early as next week,” stated MEP James Holtum.

The move has incited criticism from those who claim an open platform is being provided to someone who has “handed terrorists an advantage,” according to conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope, the justice and home affairs spokesman for European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

Labour MEP Claude Moraes commended the outcome of the vote, assuring that questions would be both rigorous and fair.

Among questions which will be put to Snowden will be “why he decided to reveal the information and the consequences and implications of his actions; questions around his current situation in Russia; questions around his opinion on the impact of his revelations on security, the intelligence services, and 'the right to know’; questions around his opinions of where his revelations and allegations take the area of mass surveillance in the future,” Moraes told the Guardian.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, domestic and judicial spokesman for the Greens in the European Parliament, hailed the fact that Snowden could be consulted a “great success” for the European Parliament.

As the “central witness in the surveillance scandal…he is prepared to give testimony in front of the European Parliament,” he wrote in a blog post published last week.

‘We let technological capabilities dictate policies’

On Wednesday, Snowden received the top ‘Global Thinker’ award from Foreign Policy magazine. In a statement made in absentee, he apologized for having “a bit of passport trouble” which was hindering his material presence.

“We've learned that we've allowed technological capabilities to dictate policies and practices, rather than ensuring that our laws and values guide our technological capabilities,” he cautioned.

“Today we stand at the crossroads of policy, where parliaments and presidents on every continent are grappling with how to bring meaningful oversight to the darkest corners of our national security bureaucracies”
he said, adding that, “the stakes are high.”

Snowden’s revelations of vast domestic and international surveillance and data collection by the US have been making headlines since June. The NSA’s alleged spying on emails and tapping of phones of world leaders has provoked scandals between the US and a number of countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Snowden has been living in Russia since August, when he was granted temporary asylum status.

Comments (16)

 

jeff strehlow 16.12.2013 07:30

Timothy Tribbett 13.12.2013 23:06

He is a self important traitor. I am so happy he will never come back to America...

  


I'm happy about that also, because he wouldn't be safe here. Even if given amnesty by the government he shouldn't come back. Though many here love him, there are people like you who hate him. One of those people might do him harm.

 

jeff strehlow 16.12.2013 07:18

Mr Edward Snowden: “We've learned that we've allowed technological capabilities to dictate policies and practices, rather than ensuring that our laws and values guide our technological capabilities,” he cautioned.

I agree with that. The problem is that many of us don't have the wisdom to refrain from doing the wrong thing. Technological capabilities themselves are OK, but what we do with them needs to be limited by wisdom. In other words, if a societies technology outgrows it's wisdom, that can cause problems.

 

Max21c 15.12.2013 16:59

The EU parliament should submit its questions in writing as otherwise they'll just use it to harangue Snowden and for their fascist grandstanding since EU elites are on the side of the Washington Regime and its secret police.

View all comments (16)
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