NEWS
MPs call for asylum for Edward Snowden

London meeting demands action on surveillance

05 Nov 2013
BY PADRAIG REIDY
(Photo: David von Blohn / Demotix)

(Photo: David von Blohn / Demotix)

German and British MPs last night called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be granted asylum in Germany.

Addressing a meeting called to support the Guardian newspaper in the face of threats from the British government, Conservative MP David Davis said that safeguards for whistleblowers were the only way to protect civilians from an overreaching surveillance and security apparatus, adding that “If whistleblowers can look forward to a life in Germany rather than a life in Moscow, I think that would improve things for everybody.”

German Green Party MP Konstantin Von Notz had earlier said that his country “needed to grant political asylum to Edward Snowden.”

The issue of surveillance has been hotly debated in Germany since it was revealed that the United States’ National Security Agency had been monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

But speakers at the London meeting, convened by Observer and Vanity Fair journalist Henry Porter, expressed concern that a similar debate was not taking place in the United Kingdom.

Conservative MP Rory Stewart suggested that parliament’s intelligence and security committee should be openly elected and led by an opposition MP, thereby encouraging greater scrutiny of the security services’ actions.

“You are never going to have a government backbencher chairing a committee that is going to criticise the government properly,” said Stewart, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a former diplomat.

Addressing Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that measures would need to be taken to prevent the Guardian from publishing further revelations about surveillance by US and UK authorities, Davis said that no government in any other country where the stories had been published had attacked newspapers in the way the UK government had attacked the Guardian. He said “the only reason [the government] is doing this is out of embarrassment.”

The meeting, held at the Royal Institute for British Architects, heard from English PEN director Jo Glanville, who criticised David Cameron’s dismissal of civil liberties concerns about surveillance as “la-di-da” and “airy-fairy”. Davis echoed that sentiment, saying he delighted in being called “la-di-da” by old Etonian Cameron.

Padraig Reidy

Comments are closed.

Index logo white

Join us to protect and promote freedom of speech in the UK and across the world.
Since 1972, Index on Censorship has been leading the campaign for free expression.
Our award-winning magazine originally provided the platform for the untold stories of dissidents and resistance from behind the Iron Curtain and is now a home for some of the greatest campaigning writers of our age.
Journalistic freedom, artistic expression, the right to protest, the right to speak your mind, wherever you live.  These are the founding principles of Index on Censorship.
So join us, by subscribing to our newsletter or making a donation, to use your voice to ensure that everyone else can be heard too.
Go to the Index on Censorship home page