The German government has no ear for calls to bring security leaker Edward Snowden to Germany so that he can testify before a parliamentary panel investigating surveillance practices, a lawmaker said, ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Washington on Friday.
Germany's "federal government has never been in any doubt that there is no legal basis for Mr. Snowden to travel to Germany," Roderich Kiesewetter, lawmaker for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, said in a statement, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Opposition members of the parliamentary committee had insisted that Snowden, a former NSA contractor, was a key witness and needed to appear before the panel in person — partly because of concerns that Russia influence his testimony, The Guardian reported.
But government officials have reportedly argued that allowing Snowden to travel to Germany would antagonize Washington and harm relations between the two countries, already on edge since Snowden's leaks disclosed the NSA had been tapping Merkel's cell phone.
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung cited a letter by government officials to members of parliament as saying that a personal invitation for Snowden would "put a grave and permanent strain" on Germany's economic, diplomatic and security relations with the U.S. and would "run counter to political interests."
Several government officials said this week that a government report expected to be published Friday would conclusively oppose a Snowden testimony in Berlin, The Washington Post said.
Ongoing unrest in Ukraine is likely to feature high on the agenda during Friday's talks between Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama, with Germany wary of imposing more economic sanctions on Russia that could damage German interests in the country.
German officials said Merkel's visit to the White House was not going to result in a broad intelligence sharing or "no-spy" agreement, The New York Times said.