High court: Snowden must come to Berlin

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High court: Snowden must come to Berlin
Edward Snowden. Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled that the government must bring US whistleblower Edward Snowden to Berlin to answer parliamentary questions on the NSA, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.


The ruling, which was made on November 11th, came after the opposition Green and Die Linke (the Left Party) groups brought a case to court requesting that Snowden be questioned by MPs, the SZ reported on Monday.

The opposition originally requested in 2014 that Snowden come before the parliamentary committee, set up to investigate German-American spying activities. The federal government has until this point resisted attempts by the opposition to have Snowden appear before the commission.

Snowden’s name has long stood on the list of desired witnesses to come before the committee, but the government never sent him an invitation to appear before it, Die Zeit reports.

According to the Hamburg newspaper, Snowden is the most important witness the committee could call, as it seeks to investigate the extent to which NSA spy programmes affected German citizens.

The government though long argued that it could not guarantee Snowden’s safety if he were to travel to Germany, due to the fact he is wanted on charges of espionage and theft of government property in the USA.

But the BGH ruling means that the government will have to lift this blockade. It will now have to send Snowden an invitation and draw up the preconditions upon which he will be questioned, the court ruled.

After leaking documents which revealed the NSA programmes to spy on the online activities of private citizens in 2013, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, where he has been ever since.

The BGH ruling comes only days after a setback for the Greens and Die Linke, when they tried to ensure that the commission gained access to the so-called “selectors list” of targets, which was provided by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to Germany.

The list contains identifiers such as IP addresses, phone numbers and email addresses used to search for specific people.

Committee members had wanted to view the list, but the German government refused, instead appointing a “trusted person” to evaluate the list and then inform the committee.

The Constitutional Court ruled last Tuesday that the BND, Germany's external intelligence service, could keep the list classified. It argued that the government's interest in confidentiality was more important than that of the parliamentary committee to receive more information.



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