Germany says it would like to talk to former Hawaii-based U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden about what he knows about the vast American spying programs, including the alleged monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
Berlin’s top security official, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, said Friday Germany would welcome any information the U.S. fugitive, now living in asylum in Russia, could provide it, although it was unclear how that might occur.
His remarks came after German lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele met with Snowden in Moscow Thursday. Stroebele said the former national security contractor, who leaked a massive cache of classified documents, handed him a letter addressed to the German government. In the letter, Snowden attacked the U.S. for pursuing him for what he described as “political speech.”
Key German and U.S. officials talked in Washington this week about the American surveillance. Friedrich said any information Snowden has could prove valuable to the Germans.
“I don’t know what he [Stroebele] has discussed with him, but if the message is that Mr. Snowden wants to give us information and tell us something, then we gladly take that on, because any clarification and every information we can get is valuable.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday the American surveillance activities went “too far” in some cases, and has promised that will not happen again.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate intelligence committee approved legislation to tighten controls on what intelligence agencies can do with communications records. It would impose a five-year limit on how long those records can be retained.
The controversy has also made its way to Asia. Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador in Jakarta following reports indicating that Australia has allowed covert U.S. surveillance programs to operate in its embassies in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and East Timor.
Greg Moriarty, Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, spoke with reporters shortly after the meeting, saying only that “from my perspective, it was a good meeting and now I have to go and report directly to my government.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa expressed deep concern over the allegations.
“We have sought clarification, we have sought explanation, both from Australia side as well as the United States government on the reported facilities at their embassies in Jakarta,” he said.
Media reports said also that the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta was used for spying on its president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and other Indonesian leaders. They indicate the U.S. embassy houses wiretapping equipment that has been used to monitor other Indonesian leaders. The documents describe the facilities as carefully concealed within embassy compounds.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.