Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor living under asylum in Russia after leaking details of vast U.S. surveillance activities, may travel to Berlin to testify in an inquiry into revelations of American spying in Germany, though doing so could complicate his refugee status.
Snowden met in Moscow on Thursday with veteran German Green Party candidate Hans-Christian Ströbele, who said Snowden indicated he’s willing to assist in the German parliament’s inquiry. Snowden, who recently took a job with a tech firm in Moscow, could face legal and logistical hurdles in traveling from Russia, where he has been granted asylum status, to Germany, where he has not, though witnesses testifying at German parliament are generally granted the legal protection necessary for them to do so, the Guardian reports.
In an interview published Friday by Russia Today, Snowden’s attorney said that if he does travel outside of Russia he will lose his refugee status. The lawyer said, however, that Snowden may be able to assist with the German inquiry remotely from Russia.
Snowden’s trip to Berlin would provide an opportunity for him to re-submit a request for asylum in Germany, which was rejected in June on the technicality that, for his application to be considered, he had to have applied in person on German soil. Snowden’s Russian lawyer did not offer confirmation that his client is looking to re-settle in Germany, saying Snowden is settling into Russian life, learning the language, attending events, and working now at a tech firm.
During his meeting with Ströbele, Snowden reportedly handed over a letter to be delivered to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which will be read publicly Friday. In the letter purported to be from Snowden, the leaker writes “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 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 media reports of NSA surveillance stemming from his leaks.
The inquiry into NSA activities in Germany is scheduled to begin in the Bundestag on Nov. 18.