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Edward Snowden testifies by video-link at hearing on ‘mass surveillance’

US whistleblower Edward Snowden is to testify from Moscow by live video-link at a parliamentary hearing on “mass surveillance” taking place at 2 p.m., Tuesday 8 April, on the margins of the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

Other participants at the hearing, organised by PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, include the former head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service Hansjörg Geiger, who has proposed a “codex” to regulate intelligence activities between friendly states, and London-based international law professor Douwe Korff.

“Edward Snowden has triggered a massive public debate on privacy in the internet age,” said Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD), who is preparing two separate reports on mass surveillance and on whistleblowers for the Assembly. “Among other things, we hope to ask him what his revelations mean for ordinary users, how they should try to protect their privacy, what kind of restrictions Europe should now impose on state surveillance, whilst remaining effective in the fight against terrorism, and how these might be enforced.

He added: “Furthermore, we would like to know more about how the NSA deals with whistleblowing. I regret that the US administration has not responded to our invitation to present its side of the story.”

In a January 2014 memorandum, Mr Omtzigt spelled out the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in this area. He also hosted a side-event on “After Snowden: using law and technology to counter snooping”.

On Wednesday, as part of its plenary session, the Assembly is due to debate a report on improving user protection and security in cyberspace, after an earlier hearing on state surveillance of the internet. And in a 2010 resolution, adopted following similar hearings, the Assembly also called for laws to protect whistleblowers.

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The hearing takes place from 2 to 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday 8 April in Room 1 of the Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg, and is open to the press on a “first come, first served” basis, subject to available space.

A live transmission of the hearing will be available at this link.

PACE Communication Division, tel. +33(0)3 88 41 31 93 ; angus.macdonald@coe.int