No to asylum, but Germans want to hear what Snowden has to say

Deutsche Welle reports: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has again ruled out granting asylum to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. This comes amid growing calls for a way to be found for Snowden to meet with German parliamentarians.

The chancellor’s spokesman on Monday took great pains to stress the need to avoid a break with Washington over allegations of the mass surveillance of German citizens by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and possibly even the tapping of Merkel’s mobile phone.

“The trans-Atlantic alliance remains for us Germans of exceptional importance,” Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin. He added that Germany had benefitted more than virtually any other nation from its friendly relations with the United States and that this was a major factor to be weighed up in any and all decisions the government made.

Seibert also ruled out the idea of Berlin granting former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden asylum in Germany, so that he could testify before a parliamentary committee looking into the US spying allegations. Snowden’s situation, he said, did not meet the criteria for such a move.

Hermann Gröhe, the general secretary of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), made a similar statement, noting that the United States, which wants to put Snowden on trial on espionage charges, has a valid extradition agreement with Germany.

Meanwhile, a senior member of the Social Democrats (SPD), with whom the CDU aims to form the next government, has called for German officials to question Snowden in Moscow. Speaking on ARD public television on Sunday evening, Thomas Oppermann also didn’t rule out the possibility of talking to Snowden in Germany. Whatever happened, he said, there needed to be a humanitarian solution to Snowden’s status, while at the same time keeping German-US relations in tact.

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