Security

Snowden’s next act: He may help Germany dig into the NSA’s overseas spying

Edward Snowden
Image Credit: Meghan Kelly/VentureBeat

Edward Snowden may soon be on a flight to Germany to testify in an anticipated Bundestag-led investigation looking at the U.S. National Security Agency’s spy-tactics.

Germany is courting the idea of a full-fledged government investigation into U.S. surveillance techniques after a number of revelations in the past few weeks shocked the international community — including recent reports suggesting the NSA tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone in order to collect information.

Now, the country might ask the man behind the leaks, Snowden, to be involved in its investigation and provide his testimony, according to The Guardian.

On November 18, Germany’s government will discuss this issue in a meeting that many hope will result in an official call for the investigation.

German politician Hans-Christian Ströbele said Snowden met with officials, where the former NSA-contractor handed over a letter intended for Merkel. In the letter, he explained that he’d participate if asked.

“I will be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents, as appropriate and in accordance with the law,” the letter reads, the text of which can be seen at the end of this article.

This is a big opportunity for Snowden, who seems to be doing well in Russia, where he currently has political asylum. Yesterday, Snowden’s representatives announced that he has taken a job in tech support. His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, declined to say exactly where he is working.

If he traveled to Germany, he would need political protections to keep the U.S. from arresting him on foreign soil, as he is currently wanted for espionage in his home country. After traveling to Russia from Hong Kong, Snowden attempted to apply for asylum in Germany, but was denied due to the fact that he wasn’t physically on German soil to submit his application.

However, Germany could see fit to give Snowden asylum during this investigation. Of course, as Reuters notes, Snowden accepted Russia’s asylum offer under the condition that he not do anything to harm the U.S. Russian officials have not indicated whether or not participation in this investigation qualifies as harm.

Snowden’s letter to Merkel per The Guardian:

To whom it may concern,

I have been invited to write to you regarding your investigation of mass surveillance.

I am Edward Joseph Snowden, formerly employed through contracts or direct hire as a technical expert for the United States National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and Defense Intelligence Agency.

In the course of my service to these organizations, I believe I witnessed systemic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act. As a result of reporting these concerns, I have face a severe and sustained campaign of persecution that forced me from my family and home. I am currently living in exile under a grant of temporary asylum in the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.

I am heartened by the response to my act of political expression, in both the United States and beyond. Citizens around the world as well as high officials – including in the United States – have judged the revelation of an unaccountable system of pervasive surveillance to be a public service. These spying revelations have resulted in the proposal of many new laws and policies to address formerly concealed abuses of the public trust. The benefits to society of this growing knowledge are becoming increasingly clear at the same time claimed risks are being shown to have been mitigated.

Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense. However, speaking the truth is not a crime. I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behavior. I hope that when the difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of documents, as appropriate and in accordance with the law.

I look forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved, and thank you for your efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all.

With my best regards,

Edward Snowden

31 October 2013