The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decision from late February stated that the opposition Green party and Die Linke (Left Party) politicians sitting on a parliamentary committee investigating US spying didn’t command the necessary support to challenge the committee's original decision.
In November the BGH ruled that Snowden should be invited to Berlin and that the government make preparations to ensure his safety, raising the intriguing possibility that Berlin would have to provide protection to one of the most wanted men in the US. But then the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats appealed the decision.
But in the new ruling the court stated that the two parties would have needed the support of a quarter of MPs in the Bundestag (German parliament) to challenge the decision by the committee not to invite Snowden.
The NSA investigative committee was set up in 2014 to investigate German-American spying activities in the wake of the Snowden leaks revealing widespread government surveillance.
The Greens and Die Linke make up a quarter of the seats of the committee and had tried to use this fact to invoke “minority rights” – a parliamentary mechanism allowing the opposition to challenge government and committee decisions in court.
But the court ruled minority rights only apply to the Bundestag as a whole, rather than committee members.
The opposition originally requested in 2014 that Snowden come before the parliamentary committee. But the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats who make up the majority on the committee resisted the request.
The government has long argued that it cannot 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.
After leaking documents which revealed the NSA programmes that spy on the online activities of private citizens in 2013, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, where he has been ever since.
The Snowden leaks also led to allegations that the US spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, and revelations that the German BND cooperated with the NSA to spy on European politicians and businessmen.