The European parliament, defying opposition from the US and its own conservative bloc of center-right parties, has invited Edward Snowden to testify before them about the issues involved in his revelations of widespread government spying.
Labour MEP Claude Moraes, the lead rapporteur for the European parliament inquiry on the mass surveillance of EU citizens, welcomed the outcome of the vote and promised that questioning would be “rigorous and fair”.
“Amongst the questions I will ask Mr Snowden,” Moraes said, “will be why he decided to reveal the information and the consequences and implications of his actions; questions around his current situation in Russia; questions around his opinion on the impact of his revelations on security, the intelligence services, and ‘the right to know'; questions around his opinions of where his revelations and allegations take the area of mass surveillance in the future.”
What is interesting is that distrust of the US is so high even in the European parliament that they have fears that the NSA might use it to try and pinpoint Snowden’s location, and so they are likely to avoid a live interaction video link and the exchange may have to be pre-recorded.
A “We the People” petition on the White House website that read “Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs” reached the required 100,000 signatures by the deadline, forcing the government to respond. It now has 142,353 signatures.
Some NSA officials have floated a plan for an amnesty for Snowden in exchange for him returning the yet unrevealed documents. That plan faces strong opposition and appears to be going nowhere, not surprisingly.
The US wants to make Snowden into an untouchable pariah but they are losing that battle. As more and more leaks are revealed showing the depth of the invasion of people’s privacy and the lying about it by high officials from president Obama on downwards, there is no mistaking the fact that Snowden is in the right and the US government is wrong.