Germany hopes for details from Snowden on US spying
- 1 November 2013
- From the section Europe
The German government says it is keen to hear directly from the fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden about the US spy agency's activities.
Reports that the US bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone for years have caused a diplomatic rift.
Mr Snowden's lawyer said there could be a meeting with German investigators in Moscow, but not Germany.
Earlier the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that in some cases, US spying had gone too far.
He said he would work with President Barack Obama to prevent further inappropriate actions by the National Security Agency.
Mr Snowden, 30, fled to Russia in June after leaking details of far-reaching US telephone and internet espionage. He has temporary asylum, allowing him to live in Russia, until July 2014.
"If the message is that Mr Snowden wants to give us information then we'll gladly accept that," German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Friday.
The German chancellor's anxiety about US spying overshadowed last week's EU summit, when she remarked with irritation that spying on friends is "really not on".
In a surprise move, a German Green MP, Hans-Christian Stroebele, met Mr Snowden in Moscow on Thursday and revealed the former intelligence contractor's readiness to brief the German government on NSA spying.
Mr Snowden set out his position in a letter, which Mr Stroebele showed to reporters at a news conference in Berlin on Friday.
The scale of the alleged US espionage has provoked international concern and calls for tighter supervision.
Asian countries have protested at claims that Australia was involved in a US-led spy network.
China has demanded an explanation of the reports, while Indonesia has summoned the Australian ambassador to Jakarta.
In other developments:
- Major technology companies including Google, Apple and Yahoo have called for the US government to do more to rein in the NSA's activities
- Indonesia's foreign minister said reports that the NSA used Australian embassies to eavesdrop on Asian countries would indicate a "serious breach" of diplomatic rules.
Mr Stroebele said Mr Snowden would be ready to go to Germany if it could be guaranteed that he would not be extradited to the United States, where he is wanted to stand trial for revealing official secrets.
The Bundestag - the lower house of the German parliament - has the power to decree that someone addressing it has immunity but it is not clear whether Mr Snowden would get legal protection in Germany.
However, Mr Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena later said his client would not go to Germany.
"This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders," Mr Kucherena said.
"Within the framework of international agreements Snowden can give testimony in Russia but this should be decided by the German authorities," Mr Kucherena said.
Mr Stroebele had suggested that investigators could question Mr Snowden in Moscow about the NSA.
The German government says it would welcome a meeting with the leaker.
"We will find a way, if Mr Snowden is willing to talk,'' Mr Friedrich said. "Any clarification, any information and facts that we can get, is good."
Speaking to German ARD television, Mr Stroebele said that Mr Snowden had "made it clear that he knows a very great deal."
Mr Stroebele described the former intelligence contractor as "amazingly talkative - he has a mission, an urge to communicate, he wants things to be put back on a legal basis".
Mr Snowden is starting work on Friday for a major private website in Russia, his lawyer has said.
Mr Kucherena would not disclose which site has employed Mr Snowden, citing security concerns.