Snowden can give testimony to Germans in Russia: lawyer

1st November 2013, Comments 0 comments

US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden can be questioned by German prosecutors in Russia, his lawyer said on Friday, after the fugitive met a German lawmaker over his evidence that Washington spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who was granted asylum in Russia in August to the fury of the United States, was also due Friday to begin work at an undisclosed Russian Internet firm.

"Snowden will not go to Germany. This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told the popular Echo Moscow radio.

"If he does that, he can lose temporary asylum."

But the Kremlin-friendly lawyer added: "Within the framework of international agreements Snowden can give testimony in Russia but this should be decided by the German authorities."

On Thursday, Snowden met with Green party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele over reports that US spied on the German government, Russian state television said.

During the meeting, which lasted three hours, Snowden handed Stroebele a letter, the television said without providing more details.

Kucherena said Snowden's meeting with Stroebele was "not bad," adding that the German lawmaker had asked the American whether he could be a "witness in the case."

A picture of Snowden and a beaming Stroebele meeting at an undisclosed location in Moscow was posted on the website of the German lawmaker on Friday.

The image showed Snowden -- dressed in a suit without a tie -- standing next to the flamboyant German deputy who was wearing his trademark red scarf.

The fugitive has handed the German lawmaker a letter addressed to the German government, the Bundestag lower house of parliament and the Federal Public Prosecutor, Stroebele's office said.

'He knows many things'

German public television ARD said Thursday that Snowden had met Stroebele in a secret location with two journalists.

"He proved that he knows many things. He is willing in principle to help shed light" on the spying, Stroebele told the station, adding Snowden declared his willingness to testify in Germany or in Russia.

Some German lawmakers had called on Snowden to travel to Berlin to give evidence on US spying that extended to eavesdropping on Merkel's mobile phone.

Reports based on leaks from Snowden that the NSA listened in on the communications of dozens of foreign leaders, including Merkel, have provoked outrage in Germany and across Europe.

Snowden spent more than a month in the transit zone of a Moscow airport before receiving a year-long temporary asylum in August after exposing massive surveillance by the NSA.

President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden was welcome to stay in Russia as long as he did not harm US interests.

Russian security expert Pavel Felgenhauer suggested that Russian security services were likely to control Snowden's access to foreign officials.

"I believe Snowden is fully under control of Russian security services," he told AFP. "Security services and the Kremlin will decide what he can and cannot say publicly."

Also Friday, Snowden was expected to begin work at an undisclosed Russian Internet company.

He had received a job offer from the country's top social network VKontakte (In Touch) after receiving asylum in Russia.

The media-shy founder of the Russian equivalent of Facebook, Pavel Durov, publicly offered Snowden a post in August.

Kucherena has said earlier this week that Snowden would begin work for a major Russian website on Friday without providing further details.

"We do not comment on this information," company spokesman Georgy Lobushkin told AFP on Friday.

Two other major Russian Internet companies, Mail.ru Group and Yandex, have earlier said they did not hire Snowden.

Kucherena has said that while his client was comfortable in Russia and learning the language he needed to get a job because he was running out of money.

Details of Snowden's life in Russia have been scarce. A man resembling Snowden was recently pictured rolling a cart full of groceries, while another photograph showed him taking a boat ride along the Moskva River.


© 2013 AFP

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