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Germans want to interrogate Snowden

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Germans want to interrogate Snowden
Photo: DPA
14:59 CET+01:00
German politicians said on Monday they wanted to call whistleblower Edward Snowden as a witness in a parliamentary investigation into US spying - and possibly grant him asylum at the same time.

As the Merkel phone gate affair continued to rock US-German relations, the two main parties agreed the spying accusations would be debated in a special sitting of parliament.

The debate, set for November 18th, will address the NSA's activities on German soil and the tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

Meanwhile, voices grew louder calling for an official parliamentary investigative committee to look into the spying accusations.

Some are even demanding Edward Snowden be coaxed out of hiding in Russia, where he has been granted asylum, to travel to Germany to act as the committee's star witness.

The fugitive whistleblower is a "highly credible" and "obviously valuable witness," for Germany, said Thomas Oppermann, (SPD) head of the parliamentary control committee - the body responsible for oversight of intelligence services.

And if Snowden were to abandon his hideout in Russia, added Oppermann, he could not see Germany handing him over to the USA to face trial.

Germany was unlikely, he said, to deliver "someone who had uncovered a serious act of spying against the Chancellor" over to the very country "which did this spying."

Germany should offer Snowden asylum, a growing number of politicians agree, including several from the SPD.

"The service Edward Snowden has done for the disclosure of the NSA spying methods are undeniable. Germany should, together with other European states, seriously look into whether it is possible to take Snowden in," Lars Klingbeil, SPD internet policy spokesman told Handelsblatt over the weekend.

The German government has so far denied it is seeking dialogue with Snowden, who's whereabouts in Russia are currently unknown, said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday.

However, outgoing Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) has not ruled out calling on Snowden for further information in any investigation by Germany.

"If the accusations consolidate and lead to investigation, one could consider interviewing Mr Snowden as a witness," she told Zeit Online.

Meanwhile, the German Federal Public Prosecutor Harald Range has begun looking into whether the US broke the law by tapping Merkel's phone. There was not yet enough information to launch an official judicial enquiry into the spying claims, Range said.

However, he admitted it would be difficult to get Snowden into Germany.

"I can't just travel to Moscow and sit in the airport and wait until Mr Snowden shows up," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday. "We just have to gather information, and that's what we're doing."

READ MORE: White House 'ended NSA Merkel phone tapping'

DPA/The Local/jlb

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