The German government has blocked Edward Snowden from giving personal evidence in front of a parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance, it has emerged hours before Angela Merkel travels to Washington for a meeting with Barack Obama.
In a letter to members of a parliamentary committee obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung, government officials say a personal invitation for the US whistleblower would "run counter to the political interests of the Federal Republic", and "put a grave and permanent strain" on US-German relations.
Opposition party members in the committee from the Left and Green party had for weeks insisted that the former NSA employee was a key witness and therefore would need to appear in person, not least because of concerns that Russia otherwise could influence his testimony.
However, the ruling Christian Democratic and Social Democratic parties, said that a written questionnaire would suffice. The disagreement led to the resignation of the CDU head of the committee this month.