Snowden Tells German He Is Willing to Testify Before Congress

Image: Snowden Tells German He Is Willing to Testify Before Congress Hans-Christian Stroebele, member of the German Greens Party and the Bundestag, on Nov. 1 holds up a letter given to him by Edward Snowden during an Oct. 31 meeting in Moscow.

Friday, 01 Nov 2013 12:59 PM

 

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BERLIN — Edward Snowden is ready to assist a German probe into U.S. spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel but also wants to talk directly to the U.S. Congress, a German lawmaker who met the fugitive said Friday.

Snowden late on Thursday met German Green party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele at an undisclosed location in Moscow to discuss his revelations that Washington for years monitored Merkel's mobile phone, which has caused an uproar in Europe.

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On his return to Germany, Stroebele published a letter from Snowden and said the American was ready to testify to Congress to shed light on "possibly serious offenses."

The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who began work at an undisclosed Russian Internet firm on Friday, was granted asylum in Russia in August to the fury of the United States, where he faces trial on charges under the Espionage Act.

In the letter, a copy of which was posted on Stroebele's website, Snowden said he was prepared to provide details of U.S. spying to Germany and he was "heartened" by the global response to his leaks despite the unrelenting U.S. pressure.

"I hope that when the difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I 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," he wrote. "I look forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved."

Speaking to reporters in Berlin on Friday after his return from Moscow, Stroebele said Snowden also wanted to testify before Congress.

"He said first up he would prefer to lay the facts on the table in front of the U.S. Congress — in front of a committee of the U.S. Congress and explain," he said in English. "Mr. Snowden didn't appear to me as anti-American or an enemy of America or some such, but quite the opposite."

The letter was addressed to the German government, the Bundestag lower house of parliament, and the federal public prosecutor, Stroebele's office said.

Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said his client would not be able to travel to Germany for security reasons but was willing to help with the probe.

"Snowden will not go to Germany. This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders," Kucherena told the popular Echo Moscow radio. "If he does that, he can lose temporary asylum."

But the Kremlin-friendly lawyer added: "Within the framework of international agreements Snowden can give testimony in Russia but this should be decided by the German authorities."

Media reports based on Snowden's disclosures of mass U.S. surveillance — including eavesdropping on nearly three dozen foreign leaders — have strained Washington's ties with key allies.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said Friday the government would like to speak to Snowden.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Snowden's contacts with the Germans.

Snowden spent more than a month in the transit zone of a Moscow airport before receiving a year-long temporary asylum in August after exposing the massive surveillance by the NSA.

President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden was welcome to stay in Russia as long as he did not harm U.S. interests.

Security expert Pavel Felgenhauer suggested Russian security services were likely to control Snowden's access to foreign officials.

"Security services and the Kremlin will decide what he can and cannot say publicly," he said.

Also Friday, Snowden began providing IT support for an unnamed Russian Internet company, Kucherena told AFP, refusing to say whether he would be working from home.

"It's a security issue."

Kucherena added that Snowden had had many job offers. "He is hugely popular in our country."

One of those offers came from the country's top social network VKontakte (In Touch), after Snowden won asylum in Russia.

But the company on Friday refused to say whether Snowden was now working for them. "We do not comment on this information," VKontakte spokesman Georgy Lobushkin told AFP.

Two other major Russian Internet companies, Mail.ru Group and Yandex, have earlier said they have not hired Snowden.

© AFP 2014

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