MEPs from the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee today voted to invite video testimony from whistle-blower Edward Snowden to the European Parliament’s inquiry into mass surveillance. The evidence session is expected to be held in coming weeks, possibly as early as the week commencing January 20th.
British Conservative MEPs strongly opposed Snowden giving testimony, but were heavily defeated with 36 MEPs voting in favour and only the two Tory MEPs in the committee voting against.
Liberal Democrat MEP and European justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford commented:
“The purpose is not to give Edward Snowden a one-sided platform, but to allow the European Parliament’s inquiry into the NSA’s snooping programme to achieve a better understanding of the situation following his revelations. He will be asked to supply answers to questions put forward by MEPs.”
“It is important to fully clarify whether Snowden’s motives for leaking the information went beyond the public interest and if there were any whistleblowing channels open that he failed to use. But to ignore him is absurd.”
“The issue of whether the intelligence services are out of control merits serious examination in Europe as in the US. The British Tories’ ostrich-like denial is completely out of step with mainstream opinion in both continents, including Republicans in the US and Merkel’s centre-right party in Germany. But their line is consistent with the obdurate refusal of Conservatives at Westminster to clarify and strengthen safeguards on snooping by GCHQ.”
“Tory MEPs demonstrated yet again how completely isolated they are in the European Parliament and the EU in general. They are even alienating Polish allies in their little group by their hostile rhetoric against EU free movement and Polish migrants. They really are becoming more friendless by the minute.”
“I’m proud that Liberal Democrats are leading the fight against excessive state surveillance. Proposals to tighten judicial oversight and ensure the regular release of the number of data requests made by security services will be voted on at our party conference in March.”