09/01/14 13:51 CET
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A European Parliament committee has voted in favour of allowing whistlebower Edward Snowden to testify to the chamber in a special hearing. The proposal has divided MEPs and risks undermining US/EU relations.
The hearing could take place in April, but only if it is approved by a full parliament vote next month.
The Civil Liberties Committee back the planned appearance by 36 votes in favour, two members voted against, and there was one abstention.
The former US National Security Agency worker would testify by interactive video link from Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.
Washington is seeking to have Snowden extradited to the US to face espionage charges.
He fled the country after leaking documents about the NSA’s spying activities, including its widespread monitoring of telephone and email data.
Subsequent revelations that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored caused uproar across the EU.
Nevertheless, some centre-right MEPs are opposed to allowing Snowden to testify. Others are open to the idea but question its purpose.
“What can he explain to us that hasn’t already been published?” asked German MEP Axel Voss in December. Voss is from Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who belong to the centre-right European People’s Party grouping.
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