Snowden Offers to Testify in Germany on US Phone Tapping
BERLIN, November 1 (RIA Novosti) – Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden says he is willing to meet with officials in Germany to discuss alleged US surveillance programs aimed at the country's leadership.
The former US National Security Agency employee said in a letter handed to a German lawmaker in Moscow on Thursday that he was prepared to travel to Germany as soon as he knows he can arrive there without being detained or extradited to the United States.
Hans-Christian Ströbele, a representative of the German Green party in the Bundestag, the German parliament, told broadcaster ARD on Thursday that he and Snowden had discussed the allegations in detail, and Snowden clearly conveyed that "he knew a lot."
Snowden, a computer specialist, was the focus of international attention over the summer after he leaked classified evidence of alleged US government surveillance programs to the media. He fled to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, where he was granted temporary asylum in Russia in late July despite repeated extradition demands from Washington. He is now living at an undisclosed location in Russia.
A recent report in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine claimed that the NSA had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone for more than 10 years. According to leaked US government files cited by the Der Spiegel report, a listening station based in the US Embassy in Berlin was responsible for monitoring Merkel's communications.
Der Spiegel said Merkel had called US President Barack Obama to seek clarification as soon as she heard about the allegations. According to the report, the US leader apologized to Merkel but said he did not know about the spying.
Snowden's letter contained a message to the German chancellor, parliament and prosecutors.
Ströbele said all parties in Germany's parliament were interested in the establishment of a parliamentary commission to investigate the spying reports.
The German lawmaker said he had told the ex-NSA employee of ways to come to Germany without risking being detained. However, it has not been ruled out that Snowden will testify in Moscow.
Ströbele told a press conference in Berlin on Friday that he does not know whether Snowden has sent similar letters to the governments of other countries that the US also allegedly spied on.
A recent report in Le Monde cited Snowden's revelations as saying the NSA had a system in place that alerted it to certain French communications and allowed it to scoop up 70.3 million French phone records in a 30-day period.
Snowden does his own shopping in Russia, Ströbele said, adding, however, that he had promised not to ask other questions related to Snowden's accommodation and security.
Meanwhile, Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Thursday his client had found a website maintenance job in Russia, adding that Snowden would start work November 1 maintaining one of Russia's largest websites.
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