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German MP meets Edward Snowden in Moscow

Edward Snowden met Hans-Christian Stroebele, a German MP from the Green Party (Die Grünen), in Moscow on Thursday.

This comes as Germany announces that it is prepared to speak to Snowden directly to gather evidence about American spying programmes against German citizens and politicians.

Germany and the US have suffered a diplomatic rift after it emerged that the American national Security agency (NSA) may have tapped the private phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an interview with broadcaster ARD, Merkel spoke strongly about the need for reform, giving what commentators have called the clearest indication yet that the US government's spying was in breach of German legislation.

Merkel said that she expected "a clear commitment from the US government that in future they will stick to German law."

Now, in a move likely to cause waves in the US, Germany has announced that its investigators would be willing to approach the man wanted for high-level espionage by the Americans – although in Russia, not Germany.

"If the message is that Mr Snowden wants to give us information then we'll gladly accept that," German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Friday.

It appears Snowden does indeed want to cooperate with German authorities. In a letter he handed to Stroebele upon their meeting, the former NSA contractor set out his position in no uncertain terms.

"In the course of my service to [the NSA], I believe I witnessed systemic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act."

Snowden argued that "though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense."

Snowden went on to address German investigators directly, stating "I look forward to speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved."

Mr Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has issued a statement saying that his client couldn't travel to Germany to participate directly in investigations.

"This is not possible because he has no right to cross Russian borders," Mr Kucherena said.

Snowden's lawyer also said that the ex-contractor is starting work on Friday for a major private website in Russia, though he gave no details about what the site was, or what Snowden's role would be.

The meeting came as technology companies Google and Yahoo express their "outrage" at the three-letter agencies hoovering up data from their networks, and the NSA vociferously denies spying on the computers of the Vatican.

Image: Flickr (ekvidi)