‘Fear of testimony’: Ruling parties try to block Snowden’s questioning on German soil – media

‘Fear of testimony’: Ruling parties try to block Snowden’s questioning on German soil – media
Germany’s ruling CDU and SPD parties have filed an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court to revise its earlier decision that allowed the US whistleblower Edward Snowden to testify before the German parliament on the NSA scandal and Berlin’s ties to it.

The respective document was sent by the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) to the Supreme Court on Thursday, Berliner Zeitung . Martina Renner from the opposition Left Party (Die Linke) has slammed the move, saying the government has “fear of the witness testimony,” the outlet notes. 

In 2013 the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Snowden, revealed that the agency widely spied on own citizens as well as international leaders and officials, while getting significant help from German intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

In 2014 the German parliament launched a parliamentary inquiry and set up a special committee to investigate the matter. Snowden, who is currently living in exile in Moscow, is wanted by the US on espionage charges following his disclosures.

The CDU and SPD have staunchly opposed the questioning of the whistleblower in Germany, fearing that might lead to tensions with Washington. In order to avoid any “adverse” publicity for Merkel, the government simply “violated the rights of the minority,” the Green MP and parliamentary chief in the Bundestag, Konstantin von Notz reacted to Thursday’s BGH appeal, as quoted by the BZ.

In November the Supreme Court ruled that the German Parliament (the Bundestag) had to “establish the preconditions” for Snowden’s testimony before a parliamentary committee investigating NSA surveillance in Germany.

The ruling followed a request by Die Linke and the Green Party (Bundnis 90/Die Grunen), who wanted to initiate a vote in the Bundestag on whether to invite Snowden for the testimony. Among the conditions demanded by the opposition for his questioning was that he would not be extradited to the US.

A CDU MP and a chairman of the parliamentary NSA committee, Patrick Sensburg, is now mulling an appeal to the Germany’s Highest Constitutional Court, should his party’s appeal be rejected by the Supreme Court.

According to Berliner Zeitung, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the CDU and SPD appeal in March next year. Yet the NSA parliamentary committee is expected to be done with the witness hearings already in February, in order to present its final report. However, a potential extension of the time frame for the witness hearings till April is also possible.

Berliner Zeitung notes that any potential decision on the constitutional appeal would be made only after the legislation period of the current government and also the end of the current NSA parliamentary committee’s inquiry in September 2017. To invite Snowden to give later testimony before the German lawmakers would require the Bundestag to set up a new committee.

On December 1, the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released a fresh batch of secret documents regarding the work of the German NSA parliamentary committee and the ties between the BND and US intelligence. The 2,420 documents also contained information regarding other key ministries and facilities linked to the investigation.