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Berlin 'abusing power' to stop Snowden coming to Germany

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Berlin 'abusing power' to stop Snowden coming to Germany
Edward Snowden. Photo: DPA
14:58 CET+01:00
Opposition parties have accused the coalition government of overstepping its authority in its attempt to block American whistleblower Edward Snowden's trip to Germany.

The Federal Court of Justice ruled in November that the government must allow a parliamentary committee in Berlin to question Snowden, who in 2013 leaked details of the US National Security Agency's (NSA) global surveillance practises.

The ruling came after the opposition Green and Die Linke (the Left Party) groups sought legal intervention to lift the government block on inviting Snowden before the parliamentary committee set up to investigate German-American spying activities.

The ruling stated that the government must create the conditions whereby it would be possible for Snowden to appear before the committee, such as a guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US.

On Thursday though, MPs for the Social Democrats (SPD) and Union (CDU/CSU) - the parties which make up the ruling coalition government - appealed the ruling, the Berliner Zeitung reports.

Time is now set to play a decisive role in this intriguing stand off, with the BGH set to rule on the appeal in March. The committee, however, is scheduled to finish all of its hearings by the end of February so that it can write up its conclusion before the end of the legislative period later in the year.

The SPD and CDU/CSU parties are now attempting to block the official invitation to Snowden until the BGH rules on their appeal. But to achieve this they will have to apply for an extension to the hearing process into April.

This has not gone down well with Green and Left Party MPs, who accuse the coalition government of using dirty tricks to exert its influence in the Bundestag (German parliament).

Konstantin von Notz, the Green party chairman in the committee, said the government is "breaking minority parties' rights in order to dodge misfortune."

Martina Renner of the Left Party accused the government of disobeying the court ruling because it “fears [Snowden's] testimony.”

But committee head Patrick Sensburg (CDU) said he was prepared to take the case all the way to the Constitutional Court, accusing the BGH of compelling the majority of MPs in the committee to act against their will.

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