BERLIN May 8 German lawmakers decided on
Thursday they want to question former U.S. intelligence
contractor Edward Snowden as part of a parliamentary inquiry
into the mass surveillance of German citizens, which he exposed.
"A majority of the committee has decided that we want to
hear Mr Snowden," said Roderich Kiesewetter, the conservative
head of the committee set up to investigate the activities in
Germany of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
It has not yet been decided whether Snowden, who was granted
asylum in Russia, should be invited to testify in person about
the NSA surveillance that has soured ties between Washington and
Berlin. Snowden risks being arrested and extradited if he sets
foot in any U.S.-allied country.
He was charged last year in the United States with theft of
government property, unauthorised communication of national
defence information and wilful communication of classified
intelligence to an unauthorised person.
An option would be for him to testify from abroad but the
German opposition argues that Snowden would only be able to
express himself freely if he were in Germany.
Angela Merkel's conservatives have so far rejected this,
fearing that bringing Snowden to Berlin could further damage
relations with Washington which have suffered from revelations
that U.S. spies had tapped the German chancellor's own phone.
The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who share power with
Merkel's conservatives in a 'grand coalition', have said they
are open to questioning Snowden in Germany or Russia.
(Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Madeline
Chambers; Editing by Stephen Brown)