Snowden Says Would Have Much to Tell German Inquiry: Magazine

Edward Snowden
Supporters of Amnesty International cheer and shoot mobile phone videos as accused government whistleblower Edward Snowden is introduced via teleconference during the Amnesty International Human Rights Conference 2014 in Chicago, April 5, 2014. Frank Polich/Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) - Former U.S intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has new information to share with a German parliamentary inquiry investigating U.S. surveillance and he believes all Germans' rights were violated, he has told a German magazine.

German lawmakers on a committee investigating the spying decided earlier this month they wanted to question Snowden, but they could not agree on whether he should be invited to testify in person or remotely.

Snowden, who risks being arrested and extradited if he sets foot in any U.S.-allied country, told Stern magazine he had been "personally involved with information stemming from Germany" and that in that process the "constitutional rights of every citizen in Germany were infringed".

He had used systems able to intercept large amounts of data, he said, adding: "I'd be surprised if German lawmakers learnt nothing new if I laid out all the information."

Snowden said Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had used the same methods as the Americans and that might be the reason why some in Berlin were reluctant to hear him.

He was charged last year in the United States with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and wilful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person.

An option would be for him to testify from abroad but the German opposition argues that Snowden can only express himself freely if he is in Germany. Snowden's German lawyer has ruled this out, saying it could jeopardize his stay in Russia.

Angela Merkel's conservatives have so far rejected quizzing Snowden in Berlin, fearing it could further damage relations with Washington which have suffered from the revelations that U.S. spies tapped the German chancellor's own phone.

The center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who share power with Merkel's conservatives in a 'grand coalition', have said they are open to questioning Snowden in Germany or Russia.

The scale of the U.S. surveillance shocked Germany, where it is a sensitive subject because of the abuses by the Gestapo in the Nazi era and by the Stasi in communist East Germany.