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    Dutch rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt (C) holds a parliamentary hearing on the subject of Improving the protection of whistleblowers, with the participation of NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden via video link from Russia (Above) on June 23, 2015, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, northeastern France.

    Court Ruling: Snowden Must be Brought to Germany to Answer US Spying Questions

    © AFP 2018 / Frederick Florin
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    The German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled that the German government must make plans to bring former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Berlin to answer questions from a parliamentary committee looking into US intelligence agency spying.

    The ruling, which German media reported was made on November 11, came after a campaign from opposition Green and Left parties, who have called for Snowden to travel to Berlin to give evidence to a Bundestag committee set up to investigate the spying activities of German and American intelligence agencies.

    The decision also contradicts the stance of the current grand coalition government, which has previously blocked and resisted attempts to bring Snowden to Germany for questioning.

    The CDU/SPD government under Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously said that it was not possible to guarantee Snowden's security in Germany as he is currently being sought for criminal charges in the US.

    There are also concerns in Berlin that any effort to bring Snowden to Germany would see the whistleblower apply for asylum, which could then cause huge diplomatic ramifications with Washington.

    While it is still unclear whether Snowden — who has been living in exile in Russia since 2013 — will actually be brought to Germany, the BGH's ruling means that the government must make plans to ensure the American's safe passage to be questioned by the parliamentary committee, or at least justify otherwise.

    'The Government Has Sabotaged Snowden's Hearing'

    Following the Snowden leaks in October 2013, which revealed that the US has been spying on German political figures, including chancellor Merkel, the Bundestag set up a committee tasked with investigating "whether, in what way, and on what scale" the US and other allies "collected or are collecting data" that in someway relates to Germany and/or German citizens.

    Many Germans were further outraged after it was revealed that German intelligence and political figures were aware of the espionage, but chose to do nothing about it for years, raising questions over the cosy relationship between the NSA and German intelligence agency, the BND.

    The entrance to Germany's intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst BND in Pullach, southern Germany.
    © AFP 2018 / STEPHAN JANSEN
    The entrance to Germany's intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst BND in Pullach, southern Germany.

    Reacting to the most recent BGH decision relating to Snowden, Konstantin von Notz, Green Party member of the NSA investigation committee said:

    "The verdict is a disgrace for the Grand Coalition, which has attempted to sabotage a proper witness hearing by Edward Snowden."

    He said the decision was a sign that the government could no longer "handle the issue," while Left party representative Martina Renner said the court ruling was "a great opportunity for the Bundestag to clarify the essential questions of US surveillance practices."

    "The federal government is now facing the test, and it must not be subject to the interests of the secret services," she added.

    Related:

    German Parliament Passes Law Limiting Intel Agency's Spy Powers
    Snowden Receives German Citizen's Award 'Glass of Reason'
    German Intelligence Service Accused of 'Systematically' Violating Constitution
    Germany’s Greens, Left Parties Want to Question Snowden in Germany - Reports
    Tags:
    Snowden's revelations, whistleblower, passage, questioning, snooping, data collection, leaked documents, NSA spying, privacy, German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), National Security Agency (NSA), Angela Merkel, Edward Snowden, Germany, Europe, United States
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