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NSA spying: Snowden offers help to Germany

November 01, 2013 20:42 IST

United States intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has offered help to Germany to probe the National Security Agency's alleged spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel and other covert surveillance operations.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor had told a top German opposition politician, who held a secret meeting with him in Moscow that he is willing to provide details about the intelligence agency's activities including the alleged surveillance of Merkel's mobile phone.

Hans-Christian Stroebele, the Green party's member of the parliamentary control committee on intelligence services, said after a three-hour meeting with Snowden on Thursday that the former CIA contractor is "prepared in principle" to testify before a parliamentary inquiry committee or to answer questions from prosecutors if he gets an assurance that he will not be extradited to the US.

Stroebele said their talks centred on under what conditions Snowden could visit Germany.

Meanwhile, Germany's Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich on Friday said that he will try and find a way for Snowden to speak to German officials if the former National Security Agency contractor is willing to provide details about the NSA's activities including the alleged surveillance of Merkel's cellphone.

"If the message is that Mr Snowden wants to give us information, then we will be glad to accept that," Friedrich said, according to the newspaper Die Zeit. He said that "we will find a way to make a conversation possible if Mr Snowden is prepared to talk to German officials."

Friedrich's spokesperson, Jens Teschke, confirmed the comments, saying "we want clarification and we want further information."

Snowden who revealed details of the extensive US operation to access and monitor global communications, fled to Moscow via Hong Kong at the end of May. He was granted a temporary asylum by the Russian authorities in June, after spending around a month at the Moscow airport.

The US wants him extradited to face trial on criminal charges.

Snowden handed over a letter to Stroebele, addressed to Chancellor Merkel requesting her not to extradite him to US.

"While the NSA blocks all attempts to clarify the allegations, he is prepared to visit Germany and to testify, but the conditions for that will have to be created," Stroebele said in a TV interview.

The Green and the Left party, which build the opposition bloc in the newly-elected Bundestag, have been demanding the setting up of parliamentary inquiry committee in the wake of new allegations that the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone for more than a decade and the agency may have also spied on the government from the American Embassy. 

K Mammen Mathew in Berlin
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