Gestern hatte ich in einem Blogpost bereits ausführlich über eine in London stattgefundene Veranstaltung berichtet, die zum Ziel hatte, die internationale Vernetzung von Akteuren aus dem Bürgerrechtsspektrum und nationalen Parlamenten voranzubringen und sich gleichzeitig mit dem Guardian zu solidarisieren, der gerade aufgrund seiner Veröffentlichung der Dokumente von Edward Snowden von der britischen Regierung massiv unter Druck gesetzt wird.

U.a. hatten auch SPON, Zeit online und netzpolitik über das Treffen und einen Offenen Brief zahlreicher europäischer und amerikanischer Bürgerrechtsorganisationen berichtet. Auf den Seiten des Guardian kann die Veranstaltung in einem Ticker nachvollzogen werden, genauso auf Twitter unter dem Hashtag #stopbuggingus. An dieser Stelle dokumentieren wir die fünfminütige Rede, die ich gestern in London gehalten habe. Wie immer gilt: Über Kommentare und Rückmeldungen freue ich mich.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear colleagues,

I feel deeply honored and privileged by having been invited to take part in this extraordinarily important debate. I especially like to thank Alan Rusbridger and Wolfgang Blau, who have given me this opportunity to speak to you here tonight.

I would like to start by saying that I am a fond admirer of Great Britain’s longstanding democratic tradition and its impressive parliament.

I also am fully aware of the fact that some might be irritated by the participation of a German member of Parliament in today´s debate because it seems – at first sight – to be primarily related to British politics.

However, the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression as much as privacy issues lie at the very heart of both our democracies, they are most crucial to their credibility and to their survival.

The scale of the revealed mass surveillance measures is unprecedented. Once intelligence agencies gain access to the fibre optic cables that form the backbone of all electronic communication, everyone is affected. In that case, surveillance becomes boundless, with no regard for state borders.

Germans therefore must assume that the British GCHQ screens the communication of German citizens and institutions on a large scale as well and shares the gathered information with other intelligence agencies. On the other hand, who could exclude with certainty that British citizens are as well being targeted by non-British intelligence agencies?

What we really need now is a political reaction to the challenge that mass surveillance presents. This reaction has to take place in all the countries that actually carry out the surveillance measures.

So my key message to you as a member of the German Bundestag is: We urgently need this public debate, everywhere, in Berlin as much as we need it here in London. Your public debate thus has become a prerequisite of freedom and democracy in my country.

And let me add this: Yes, the intelligence agencies of my country are to blame as well. Without doubt they have become a part of the data-sharing syndicate. Therefore I see it as the foremost responsibility of the German Bundestag and my party – the German Green Party – to re-establish the rule of law and cut down on the spy business and on mass surveillance. And we must gain complete parliamentary oversight of the agencies.

As you all know, several days ago my fellow party member and dear friend Christian Ströbele went to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden , the man who we all owe a lot to for having opened our eyes to the largest surveillance and eavesdropping scandal ever.

Christian told us that he met a young man whose deep concerns about the future of freedom and democracy are authentic and beyond doubt. Snowden’s letter that he asked my colleague to take along includes an important sentence which I want to quote to you here: “Speaking the truth is not a crime!”

Unfortunately, Angela Merkel is trying to stifle an important debate by claiming that the preemptive extradition requests by the US, which were sent to all potential host countries worldwide already months ago, have made it impossible to offer political asylum to Edward Snowden. I really hope that this is not the end of the story.

We need Edward Snowden’s knowledge in order to get to the bottom of this scandal and to finally establish effective parliamentary oversight of the intelligence community. And Edward Snowden wants and deserves a safe place to live in a Western democracy. We appeal to the courage of our government to do what is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of its citizens – even in opposition to our closest ally. After all, a friendship as deep as the transatlantic relationship can only work as a two-way street. We need to grant Political Asylum to Edward Snowden!

Let me finish with this call:

We need a new initiative, a transnational initiative. It has to originate from the heart of our democracies, from the place the protection of our citizens’ basic rights is entrusted to. It has to come from our Parliaments.

I suggest calling it “Parliamentarians against mass surveillance”. We, as members of different national parliaments, need to globally unite to really gain ground in the ongoing debate. Parliaments in all democracies worldwide have massively been kept out of the loop on global mass surveillance even though they should be in charge of controlling and limiting it. Possibly some neglected this duty and, maybe under the impression of imminent terrorist threats, placed blind trusted in their governments and agencies. Other oversight committees were systemically misinformed or brought to accept measures they did not fully understand.

The time has come to end this. Parliaments need to come back in to play. Compared with the institutions they are mandated to oversee, they are lagging far behind when it comes to networking with other parliaments worldwide. I invite especially all British MPs here to join in such an initiative with me. Let us work together to protect freedom and democracy!

Thank you for your attention!


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