U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden would not be able to travel to Germany to be questioned by prosecutors about U.S. spying but can speak to them in Russia, a report said on Friday.
Some German lawmakers had called on Snowden to travel to Berlin to give evidence on U.S. spying that extended to eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
But a source quoted by the Interfax news agency said that such a trip would be impossible for Snowden, who was granted asylum by Russia in August.
“It is practically ruled out for Edward Snowden to travel outside Russia. In this case he would lose his refugee status and could be handed over to Washington by U.S. allies,” the news agency quoted a source familiar with the situation as saying.
“At the same time, the German General Prosecutor’s Office could in principle send its representatives to Russia or pass its written questions on to Edward Snowden.”
The source said the matter should be worked out at an “appropriate interstate level.”
German public television ARD reported Thursday that the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor had met with Green party lawmaker Hans-Christian 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.
Reports based on leaks from Snowden that the U.S. National Security Agency 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.
He was expected to start working for a major Russian website on Friday, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has said, without disclosing the name of the company.
Speculation has focussed on Russia’s biggest social network VKontakte, which was founded by Pavel Durov, 29, often described as the Russian Mark Zuckerberg after the equally youthful Facebook supremo.