Germany prepared to speak to Snowden over bugging

Germany’s top security official said yesterday he will try to find a way for Edward Snowden to speak to German officials if the former National Security Agency contractor is willing to provide details about the NSA’s activities including alleged surveillance of chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

Germany prepared to speak to Snowden over bugging

The comments by interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich came after a German opposition politician travelled to Moscow and met NSA leaker Snowden. The politician, Hans-Christian Stroebele, returned to Berlin with a letter he said Snowden had written, which he released yesterday.

In the letter Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the US, indicated that he will not speak with German officials until the US stops its prosecution of leakers like him.

“Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalise political speech with felony charges that provide no defence. I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behaviour,” Snowden wrote.

“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.”

Stroebele is a prominent critic of the NSA’s alleged activities.

The release of the letter came after Friedrich said “if the message is that Mr Snowden wants to give us information, then we will be glad to accept that”.

“We will find a way to make a conversation possible if Mr Snowden is prepared to talk to German officials,” Friedrich said, according to newspaper Die Zeit.

Friedrich’s spokesman Jens Teschke confirmed the comments, saying “we want clarification and we want further information”. He added, however, that he understood Friedrich to be referring primarily to the possibility of officials speaking to Snowden in Russia, where he has been granted asylum.

Germany is seeking answers from US authorities to allegations Merkel’s cellphone was monitored, which prompted the German chancellor to complain to US president Barack Obama last week.

Germany rejected an asylum request from Snowden earlier this year.

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