• Germany's news in English

Germans keen to talk with Snowden

Josie Le Blond · 1 Nov 2013, 15:01

Published: 01 Nov 2013 09:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Nov 2013 15:01 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Green Party MP Christian Ströbele, 74, delivered the letter in a press conference on Friday afternoon following his surprise meeting in Moscowwith Snowden and two journalists on Thursday. The fugitive had handed the German lawmaker a letter addressed to the German government, the Bundestag lower house of parliament and the Federal Public Prosecutor, Ströbele's office said.

"He proved that he knows many things. He is willing in principle to help shed light" on the spying, said Ströbele.

In the letter addressed “to whom it may concern," the whistleblower said he hoped after the “difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved,” he would be free to “cooperate in the responsible finding of fact… in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents.”  

While not specifically mentioning Germany or Merkel, Snowden said he looked “forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved” and expressed thanks for “your efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all.”  

Despite the vague and distant tone of the letter, the German government appeared to have accepted it as a genuine overture. If Snowden wanted to deliver information to Germany, said German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich on Friday, “then we’d be happy to accept it.”

“We’d be grateful when something comes [from him], whether it’s via Mr Ströbele, letters or something else,” added Friedrich.   

Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Moscow-based broadcaster Echo Moskwy on Friday that any conversation or exchange of information between Germany and his client would have to take place on Russian soil, where he had been granted temporary asylum.

He could however “give testimony in Russia within the framework of international agreements,” if Germany wished, said the Kremlin-friendly lawyer. 

The most recent revelations from intelligence leaked by Snowden came in a Washington Post report alleging that NSA technicians had tapped into Yahoo and Google data centres around the world, winning access to vast amounts of private data.

Wanted for espionage by Washington, Snowden has been living in hiding and keeping off the radar in Moscow with what his lawyer called "small alterations in his appearance."

The US ambassador to Berlin said on Thursday that he was unaware of any illegal activity linked to US espionage operations.  John Emerson was asked by German public broadcaster ZDF about reports that the National Security Agency conducted mass surveillance of German communications including tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone over several years.

"As far as I am aware there is nothing we're doing that is a violation of law," he said, without specifying whether he meant US or German law.

Story continues below…

Merkel angrily confronted US President Barack Obama last week with allegations that the NSA was snooping on her phone, saying it would amount to a "breach of trust".

The German government summoned Emerson, a lawyer by training who only arrived in Berlin as ambassador in August, for a highly rare dressing down between the close allies.

Josie Le Blond

READ MORE: Germans want to interrogate Snowden

Josie Le Blond (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd