The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) will decide, on the morning of 9 January, whether or not to organise a hearing of Edward Snowden, the young man (age 30) behind the revelations of massive spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA), who is still in Russia but seeking refuge elsewhere. Two American judges have issued contradictory rulings on these telecoms data collection programmes: one in Washington ruled that they violate the US Constitution, the other in New York held that they are "legal". Meanwhile, MEPs are continuing their investigations. "These rulings change nothing for us," say EP sources. "We are continuing to carry out the mandate given to us by the plenary."
Will that involve hearing Snowden, who risks a 30-year prison term for violation of the Espionage Act and theft of documents belonging to the state? MEPs are still split over the idea. Europolitics has learned that the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and the radical left are in favour of a hearing, but would settle for using a video pre-recorded by the whistle blower to avoid risks involved in any movements by the former NSA contractor.
The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) is opposed to a hearing, while the EPP Conservatives say it is too late, since the investigation is completed and the draft report by British Socialist Claude Moraes is ready. "We are not opposed to the idea of approaching him, but we have doubts about the sense of this initiative and the timing," Axel Voss told the press for the EPP. "But I wonder what more he can tell us if everything has already been published." If a hearing is organised nonetheless, Voss says it would be preferable to talk to Snowden via a live video link or even to send an EP delegation to Moscow, despite the risks involved for the young American.
FINAL VOTE IN LATE FEBRUARY
In addition to this decision, LIBE committee members will also debate, on 9 January, the draft report by Moraes. After ten or so meetings with external experts on the scandal of NSA spying, Moraes urges...