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Opposition Coalition Threatens to Sue Government Over NSA Files (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany)


"The Committee of Inquiry shouldn't turn itself into a fig-leaf for a government that is only pretending to cooperate. ... Any limitations on the clarification of facts in the espionage scandal, whether related to comprehensive access to files or obtaining testimony from Edward Snowden will be unequivocally rejected by the Greens. ... Coalition representatives serving on the committee should consider themselves above being fobbed off with crumbs of information."


-- Green parliamentary leader Katrin Goring-Eckardt


By Robert Roβmann


Translated By Stephanie Martin


May 6, 2014


Germany - Sueddeutsche Zeitung - Original Article (German)

Green parliamentary leader Katrin Goring-Eckardt says that the German federal government is only 'pretending' to cooperate with legilators investigating NSA mass surveillance and the 'No-Spy Agreement' now under discussion.


THE MUNK DEBATE: A post-debate analysis of the Munk Debate on State Surveillance, May 2, 00:36:04RealVideo

If the federal government refuses to grant access to files relating to the NSA inquiry,  Greens and members of the Left serving on the committee of inquiry are threatening the government with legal action in Karlsruhe. Information on the "No-Spy Agreement" should also be disclosed.


The opposition is threatening to file charges against the federal government for its lack of cooperation on the NSA affair. Leaders of the Greens and the Left on the NSA Committee of Inquiry, Konstantin von Notz and Martina Renner, stated that legal action, up to and including filing suit with the Federal Constitutional Court [Supreme Court] or with the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe would be taken if the government refuses to provide access to the files.


According to Der Spiegel, the government was only prepared to grant the committee limited access to their files. The Committee would not to be given access, for example, to information on the negotiations for the No-Spy Agreement with the United States. According to a senior government official, these files are taboo because they relate to an “ongoing investigation.” Moreover, they apply to a “core area of executive responsibility,” which is constitutionally protected. Whether the Committee will be given documents that relate to cooperation between the German, American, and British intelligence services, is also in doubt.  That would require the consent of our foreign partners.


Green parliamentary leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt told Süddeutsche Zeitung that the Committee of Inquiry “shouldn't turn itself into a fig-leaf for a government that is only pretending to cooperate. ... Any limitations on the clarification of facts in the espionage scandal, whether related to comprehensive access to files or obtaining testimony from Edward Snowden will be unequivocally rejected by the Greens." Göring-Eckardt also said that [Green-Left] coalition representatives serving on the committee should “consider themselves above being fobbed off with crumbs of information.”


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However, Committee Chairman Patrick Sensburg put the allegations into perspective. According to CDU member Sensburg, the government had assured the Committee that its work would receive “extensive support.” He therefore assumes that the government will “generally approve requests for evidence.” If in individual cases the government felt unable to do so, it would be required to provide a detailed and serious explanation of what stood in the way of presenting such evidence, Sensburg said. However, the Committee of Inquiry had yet to arrive at that stage. The majority of evidentiary requests would likely not be made until the next session.

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The federal government didn't officially comment on the allegations on Sunday, but the word in government circles was that it would “support committee members to the best of its ability,” and it was now being determined what documents would be made available to the NSA Committee of Inquiry.


A government report had already caused considerable displeasure within the Committee. In it, the government rejects questioning Snowden in Germany because of the “significant negative consequences to the German-American relationship.” For this reason, Committee Chairman Sensburg advocates questioning Snowden via videoconference. Snowden currently lives in Moscow.  


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