Germany’s top security official has said that 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 the alleged surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
The comments on Friday by Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich came after Hans-Christian Stroebele, a German lawmaker, travelled to Moscow and met NSA leaker Snowden.
“We will find a way to make a conversation possible if Mr. Snowden is prepared to talk to German officials,” Friedrich said, according to the newspaper Die Zeit, comments which his spokesman later confirmed.
The lawmaker later released a statement which Snowden had written.
In the letter Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the US, indicated that he would not speak with German officials until the US dropped the charges against him and 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 behavior,” Snowden wrote in the letter.
My government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalise political speech with felony charges that provide no defence
“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,” he said.
Snowden said that he would be ready to testify to the US Congress to shed light on “possibly serious offences”.
On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly acknowledged that the National Security Agency may have overstepped the mark in its intelligence gathering.
“In some cases, I acknowledge, as has the president, that some of these actions have reached too far and we are going to make sure that that does not happen in the future.”
Germany is seeking answers from US authorities to allegations that Merkel’s mobile phone was monitored, which prompted the German chancellor to complain to US President Barack Obama last week.
Merkel’s foreign policy adviser and intelligence coordinator held talks on the issue in Washington on Wednesday.
Germany’s parliament is expected to discuss the NSA’s alleged activities November 18 and lawmakers may decide to set up a commission of inquiry.
Germany, along with many other nations, rejected an asylum request from Snowden earlier this year. In July, the Germans received a US request for Snowden’s arrest should he be found in the country.