European Civil Liberties Committee Votes To Ask Snowden To Contribute To Its NSA Surveillance Inquiry

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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will be invited to contribute to a European Parliamentary committee’s ongoing inquiry into the U.S. NSA surveillance program.

The European Parliamentary Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee voted to ask Snowden to contribute to its inquiry via video conference earlier today, with 36 votes in favour of inviting the whistleblower to air his views. There were just two votes against, and one abstention.

Snowden is currently living in Russia where he was granted temporary asylum after the U.S. cancelled his passport, stranding him in Moscow airport. It’s unclear whether he will take up the offer to contribute. Snowden has previously indicated he wants to testify before the American Congress before making other contributions.

Later today the LIBE committee will debate its draft report into the U.S. NSA surveillance program, produced by MEP Claude Moraes, which looks at the impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights and on transatlantic cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs.

The LIBE’s inquiry into the program started in July last year. So far it’s held 15 hearings and submissions from EU and US experts, across EU institutions, national parliaments, U.S. Congress, academics, journalists, civil society, security and technology specialists and private business.

The Inquiry’s draft report, which will be debated by LIBE today, contains recommendations for a “European Digital Habeas Corpus for protecting privacy” with seven suggested actions.

The suggested actions include: adopting the Data Protection Package in 2014; concluding an Umbrella agreement between the EU and US that ensures “proper redress mechanisms for EU citizens in case of data transfers from the EU to the US for law-enforcement purposes”;  suspending the Safe Harbour agreement until a full review is conducted and current loopholes “remedied”; developing a European strategy for “IT independence”; and developing the EU’s role as a “reference player for a democratic and neutral governance of Internet”.

The LIBE’s draft report into NSA surveillance can be viewed here.