European Parliament: Snowden Will Make Video Appearance

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U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Zoom
REUTERS

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Leaders in the European Parliament have agreed to allow NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to answer questions by video, despite efforts by some conservative parliamentarians to block the testimony out of fear it could further harm trans-Atlantic relations.

Parliamentary leaders of the European Parliament voted Thursday to allow the planned video appearance of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to take place despite an attempt by conservative members of the European People's Party (EPP) to block it.

The American former intelligence contractor will answer questions that had been submitted by members of the parliament in a pre-recorded video message that will be shown at a sitting of the interior and justice committees.

"We now have a clear mandate to send written questions to Snowden, and I hope that he can answer this with a video message by mid-January," said Jan Philipp Albrecht, who, as a representative of the German Green Party in the European Parliament, is coordinating the body's NSA investigation. Snowden's video message was originally planned for Dec. 18, but the dispute over his questioning necessitated a postponement.

Snowden is expected to answer the questions on pre-recorded video because he would risk arrest by US authorities if he were to leave Russia, where he is living under temporary asylum. A live video feed could also enable the Americans to pinpoint his whereabouts.

Different Take

Axel Voss, a European Parliament representative from Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who has maintained that such a questioning could damage trans-Atlantic relations, sees the decision differently.

"The parliamentary group leaders and the president decided that an appearance by Edward Snowden should be live or interactive," he said. "The responsible representatives from the parliamentary groups will decide on the details in January."

The parliamentary groups have been tasked with checking to see if direct or interactive testimony would be possible. But Albrecht, the Green Party representative, says: "Both options have long been rejected for being impractical. Therefore, this will be quickly resolved and we can move on."

Representatives from different groups in the European Parliament have already compiled more than 20 questions for Snowden. These range from "How are you?" and "Can we help you?" to a detailed exploration of whether and how European intelligence agencies also collect private data.

Snowden already addressed the European Parliament once in September, but only in writing, and his statement was read aloud by a confidante. "These are not decisions that should be made for the people, but only by the people after full informed and fearless debate," the statement read, referring to discussions over civil rights within a democracy.

Washington, too, has been closely following the ongoing debate. Influential US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California wrote a letter to European Parliament representatives Elmar Brok and Claude Moraes, assuring them that the US is taking Europe's data-protection concerns seriously. It has been announced that a delegation of members of the US Congress will go to Brussels on Dec. 17 to discuss how to restore trust after the revelations of NSA surveillance of EU citizens.

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1. US Senator Feinstein
rafael 12/12/2013
+++Influential US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California wrote a letter to European Parliament representatives Elmar Brok and Claude Moraes, assuring them that the US is taking Europe's data-protection concerns seriously.+++ "Influential US senator", influential, according to whose criteria. Ms. Feinstein is not much more than a figure (and a bad one, for that matter) in US Senate. Tolerated in a male-dominant institution, she cashes in on her being of different sex. Her mind is void of any new (least of all, progressive) ideas. It is a joke that she is taking seriously in EU. After all, what can her letter achieve? Hasn't the German delegation, sent to Washington to post serious questions to (and, expectation was, to receive some assuring promises of better behaviour ftom) NSA, returned empty-handed. If Feinstein had had anything to offer, she could have done it there and then. But, she likes to rehash her potatoes.
2. Does this traitor to the EU belong in the EU?
greanknight 12/12/2013
Does the UK belong in the UK? I mean look at the UK, my homeland. They/we clearly seem to have more loyalty to the USA than the EU. And British leaders clearly seem to have more loyalty to US presidents and spy agencies than to British voters.
3. Interesting...
africa 12/12/2013
...to see Hans Küng and Edward Snowden being featured in the same newsletter. Two heroes called traitors for showing the finger to ungodly forces.
4. Why are so many politicians afraid of the truth?
Inglenda2 12/12/2013
One might argue about why Mr. Edward Snowden chose to risk his life, in order to show the world how dishonest governments and their administrative departments are. Nevertheless, by doing so, he has done democracy as a whole a great service. Possibly a greater performance in the interest of mankind, than those of many Nobel Peace Prize winners. Unlike capitalism, true democracy demands clean and transparent politics, which serves the people. All to often decisions are taken purely for personal advantage and by means of financial influence, even if this fact is not always accepted by courts of law. The more people who are ready to follow Mr. Snowdon’s example, the nearer we shall be to democracy as it is defined.
5. Ed Snowden
DarwinEvolved 12/12/2013
Ed Snowden deserves a medal and the EU should give him a blanket pardon, freedom of movement and permanent refuge in the EU.
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