by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
angela merkel, ed snowden, germany, nsa, surveillance

Germany Opens Hearings On NSA Spying, Want To Offer Safe Passage For Snowden To Come To Berlin

from the but-then-what dept

Last fall, one of the big stories concerning NSA surveillance efforts was around the fact that it had spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone calls. While this didn't sound particularly surprising (spying on foreign leaders is kind of what you expect intelligence agencies to do), from a diplomacy standpoint, it certainly was awkward. In response to this, the White House agreed to stop spying on her, but it appears to have simply shifted to spying on everyone she talks to. Just a few days ago, new leaks showed how NSA partner-in-spying, GCHQ out of the UK directly targeted Merkel with its spying tools.

Given all of this, Germany has now launched hearings into the spying done by the US, and apparently some lawmakers would like to bring Ed Snowden to testify in person:
The hearings also have the potential to provoke further antipathy. Indeed, a number of lawmakers here are now demanding safe passage to Berlin for Snowden — who is living in self-imposed exile in Moscow — to testify before the eight-person committee. Any such move would likely outrage the United States, which is seeking to take Snowden into custody.

Given the potential for angering Washington, analysts believe Merkel’s government will find a way to sidestep such a move. Nevertheless, the push to give Snowden his day here serves as another reminder that, even as the scandal appears to be dissipating in other parts of Europe, it remains at the top of the agenda in Germany.
As noted above, this seems unlikely to happen and is almost certainly just for show. I would imagine that Snowden himself might not feel all that safe in Berlin either, given its close ties to the US, though potentially he could use a trip to Berlin as a launching point to go somewhere else (one issue he's had in seeking asylum is that many countries say you have to be present in that country before requesting asylum). Also, there's a separate issue that suggests much of this is just for show, which is that Germany's own intelligence agencies are likely involved in similar activities themselves. So while it makes sense from a political standpoint to stomp and scream about all of this, it's doubtful that Germany will do too much, for fear that its own intelligence practices will become public as well.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 3:47am

    Well, the US had no problem grounding a presidential airplane because they thought Snowden was there so I'm fairly sure that they won't respect any "safe" passage arranged by Germany unless there are military jets escorting the plane.

    Granting asylum doesn't require the man to be anywhere, it requires a presidential decree or something. The transportation can be arranged afterwards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Bengie, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 5:03am

    Hey, Germany

    Citizens, please report any Jews to the Gestapo

    Germany, please report Snowden to the USA

    That's right Germany, you're just doing what you're good at.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 5:57am

    Re: Hey, Germany

    I cannot think of a single faster way to drive not only Europe, but the rest of the world into Russia's open arms faster.

    America is going to lose this - not because it is mightier, but because it relies so heavily on materials from elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:26am


    "Granting asylum doesn't require the man to be anywhere, it requires a presidential decree or something"

    This is not the case, a claim asylum must be made at the border. German and EU laws set out the procedure, which takes time and is in no way guaranteed to succeed (work-safe link to pdf follows):

    http://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/EN/Publikationen/Broschueren/broschuere-das-deutsche- asylverfahren-en.pdf;jsessionid=50469CAEA4E203F7C51E52CE26348E61.1_cid394?__blob=publicationFile

    Ther e is a great deal of opposition within Germany to amnesty for Snowden. And the US would of course lodge an extradition request on the basis that he committed crimes and should be brought before the US courts. You can't be suggesting Germany should just ignore their own laws plus EU law are you? Ignoring the law sounds more like something the US would do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    Re: Hey, Germany

    It is not the citizens who would do that, it is the government that is completely under the control of the USA.

    The citizens here consider snowden a hero.

    And as a german citizen I say to snowden: Stay the fuck where you are, the moment you land in germany the USA will get their hands on you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re:

    I'm pretty sure Germany has an Embassy .

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:30am

    BS hearings.

    What? They were so stupid as not to figure out that NSA planted backdoor as far back as Windows 95? Perhaps, they should start to utilize google searches narrowed to pre-Snowden dates. ATT started secure rooms before 9/11. There is nothing new to anyone who was paying attention.

    BTW, they might find that there is gambling going on in their own backyard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:47am

    Aren't there laws about stalking people online Angela Merkel can't catch a break

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    AC, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:48am

    Have these people not heard of video conference? I am sure they could have him go to their embassy, and testify from there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 8:11am


    The NSA will hack the videoconference. Duh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    blob, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 8:29am


    ahhh the NSAKEY.something, how stupid of them to make it so obvious, I remember finding a tool to take it out from 95 and 98.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    blob, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re:

    With end to end encryption the way Snowden tells people how things should be done, it's fine. He already did it for the EU before. And last month he appeared in fucking Texas of all places.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Hey, Germany

    Snowden is an intelligent guy. Any intelligent person can see that he has no real choice but to remain trapped in Russia for the time being.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re:

    It may not have been stupidity. It may have been really smart -- some engineer objecting to being forced to put the backdoor in, and intentionally dropping a readily discoverable clue to tip the public off.

    I might have done the same thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re:

    If there are LAWS dictating how asylum must be given it's another story. I thought of the examples where Executive guidelines (in the form of a decree) are what prevents such move.

    As a matter of fact here you have an instrument that would be called "Decree-law" which is a decree with the powers of a law. Such things can be challenged in court and in the legislative but they can be changed anytime by the executive. I myself don't know how it works to the full extent but I do know it's some sort of remnant from our dictatorship days so there you have it, Germany is different from what I thought.

    Still, laws aren't set in stone. There can be exceptions and most judiciary system accept such issues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Admiral Akbar, if you would...

    'IT'S A TRAP!'

    As AC above noted, there's such a thing as video conferences, and while they might be fine with risking Snowden's freedom and potentially life having him there personally, it would be insanely risky on his part to do so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 3:55am

    Re: Admiral Akbar, if you would...

    As has been said, Mr. Snowden is an intelligent man and would not likely take such a risk, given the alternatives.

    That being said, I for one am glad to hear such people demanding safe passage for him. Without the slightest regard to whether any actual travel took place, I can't see any downside to legislators demanding safe passage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Eddie (profile), Apr 6th, 2014 @ 4:17am

    Safe Passage to Snowden

    In regards to Edward Snowden, I have very mixed feelings. On one hand I understand that he was a compensated employee and part of his job was confidentiality. He also needed to keep confidential information just that: confidential for the bigger picture which is and remains National Security. That being said, I am glad that he "blew the whistle" on the overreach and unnecessary data collection that the NSA is doing every second of each and every day. George Orwell wasn't but 30 years off was he? For those of you interested in keeping your data private, wish to have secure e-mail and believe in your 4th Amendment Rights
    If governments and "free" email providers can peek through your webcam, read your emails and look inside
    your computer, so can the criminals.

    Solutions exist. Today, regaining your online Privacy means going Abroad...
    I will finish with this quote from former Senator Frank Church whom in 1975 stated.
    "The National Security Agency's capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Fushta (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    self-imposed exile in Moscow?

    How is it self-imposed? They voided his passport, so I'm pretty sure it's no self-imposed.

    He'll probably be in Russia long enough to qualify as a citizen, and then he can get a Russian passport.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    blob, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I view you as highly intelligent yet modest of the time....so if that was you, not saying it was, congratulations. By the way Bob Wallace was a good friend of mine on usenet back then right up until he died.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    William H. Depperman, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 10:44pm

    Snowden Urged to travel to Germany by Glen Greewald

    Snowden Blew It! By Not Turning Over ALL His Spying Documentation to ALL Countries it is Back to NSA Business as Usual! The Guardian Newspaper Has Published Less Than 1% of Snowden Files!

    Materialist Analysis of Andrew Snowden and Capitalist Surveillance:

    The USA Capitalist Dictatorship has Launched a Program of Vilification, Excoriation and
    Character Assassination of Andrew Snowden as it Sets the Stage to try to Assassinate him Physically! The USA falsely attributes “Hate” for Snowden to a Significant Percentage of The General Public, which supports what he did even though it will NOT effect USA Spying In the long run! Snowden and Manning Represent the Beginning of a Potential Mutiny in The US Military! But Mutiny must be Organized by a Genuine Communist Party which U.S. Workers have not Re-Organized! The Cuban Workers’ State might be Snowden’s Best Asylum Bet! But because Snowden Revealed he Retained NO NSA Spying Documentation it Might be Better for Him to Opt for Permanent Asylum in Russia which allows his Simplistic, Childish Reformist Pleas to be Heard remotely in Demonstrations in the USA! Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua or Brazil Could Turn Out to be a Fatal Error! Daniel Ortega Assassinated both FMLN Leaders Carpio and Ana Maria under Orders from USSR in March-April 1983 because Carpio insisted on waging Guerilla War For State Power in El Salvador! Snowden’s Revelation that he turned over all his Spy Data to the Media does NOT Change his Unofficial Death Sentence by Obama Regime which Assassinates “Enemies” on General Principal!—National Security Agency Programs: Snowden, Manning and Assange

    “Accepting Clemency” Would Result in Assassination or Life Imprisonment at Hands of USA Outlaw State!

    On April 11, 2014 USA Media ”Intelligence Agent” Glen Greenwald Set the Stage for Snowden’s Capture, Imprisonment and/or Assassination by Deliberately urging Snowden to Travel to Germany to “TESTIFY” as if Germany “Just can’t Figure it all Out” and “needs Snowden!” Ha Ha Ha! If he travels to Germany, Snowden will IMMEDIATELY be taken Into Custody and EXTRADITED to the USA and Greenwald will Cry Crocodile Tears!
    Hopefully the Russian Federation will advise Snowden NOT to leave Russia for any reason!

    Snowden’s November 1, 2013 Naïve Plea to USA Capitalist Dictatorship to stop treating him as
    A “Traitor” demonstrates that Snowden does not understand that Capitalism is Fundamentally
    Based on War, Mass Murder, Crime and Subjugation and can NEVER EVER be made “Peaceful!”

    One of the Main Purposes of NSA Spying Has Been to Determine and Monitor
    The Overall Loyalty of the General Populations of the Capitalist Countries!

    The USA Capitalist Dictatorship is Using the Snowden Affair to Intimidate the Masses
    While Going About Business as Usual and Talking about “Reform” which is Impossible!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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