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Germany should 'protect' Snowden, says Greenwald

Demonstrators holds up banners with the photo of Edward Snowden during a protest outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

BERLIN: Germany should protect former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the former Guardian reporter who broke many of the recent stories about secret US surveillance programmes said Monday.

"Germany is precisely one of the countries that has benefited most from Snowden's revelations, from the start," Glenn Greenwald said on ARD public TV, according to a statement.

He told an ARD news programme that the German government did not have to be grateful "but it should do what it is lawfully bound to do, namely protect people who are politically persecuted".

Berlin is permitting that "American authorities threaten him and restrict his rights", he added, in comments released in German.

The interview comes amid heightened tensions between the US and its international partners in a widening scandal over US snooping on telephone and online communications of citizens and world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel confronted US President Barack Obama last Wednesday with evidence uncovered in classified documents provided by Snowden.

Merkel has faced accusations of having played down the NSA scandal until it affected her.

"Germans should ask themselves why their government is acting this way and they should ask their government to ultimately protect the basic liberties of Mr Snowden effectively," Greenwald said.

Several German deputies have called for Snowden, who has sought asylum at a secret location in Russia, to be summoned to give evidence in a probe of the National Security Agency's (NSA) activities in Germany.

"To question Edward Snowden is obvious," Greenwald said.

"He should be questioned," he added, saying Snowden had "enormous experience" in the methods of the NSA.

"But he will not do it just like that, unless the German government also champions protecting his basic rights."

The German parliament will hold a special session on November 18 to assess the impact of mass US surveillance including the alleged tapping of Merkel's phone, deputies announced Monday.

Greenwald, an American journalist living in Brazil, resigned this month from The Guardian.

 

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