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'The Fifth Estate' Star Daniel Bruhl, German VIPs, Call for Asylum for Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden H
Edward Snowden

German politicians are suggesting that the NSA whistleblower should testify over the allegations that the U.S. tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

COLOGNE, Germany -- Prominent German celebrities, politicians and intellectuals have come out publicly in favor of offering asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden amid allegations the NSA illegally spied on several German public figures, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Actor Daniel Bruhl, who plays former Wikileaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg in Bill Condon's Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate, is among the group that has stepped up to support Snowden. Others include Heiner Geissler, the former general secretary of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, the novelist Daniel Kehlmann (The Measuring of the World), the feminist activist Alice Schwarzer, and Reinhard Rauball, the president of the German soccer league, the Bundesliga.

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They have declared their support for Snowden in a lead article in the new edition of Der Spiegel magazine, published Monday with "Asylum for Snowden" on its cover.

The magazine includes a short article penned by Snowden, titled a "manifesto for truth" in which the ex-NSA employee warns that spy agencies should not be allowed to set the political agenda.

"At the beginning, some of the governments who were exposed by the revelations of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented smear campaign. They intimidated journalists and criminalized the publication of the truth. … Today we know that this was a mistake, and that such behavior is not in the public interest. The debate they tried to stop is now taking place all over the world," Snowden writes in the short commentary, sent to Der Spiegel via an encrypted channel.

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Many politicians here have called on Snowden to testify as part of an investigation into alleged NSA spying on prominent German figures, including Merkel. Theoretically, he could do that via video-link from Russia. However, during a meeting with a politician from the German Green Party in Moscow last week, Snowden reportedly expressed reluctance about such a solution. But with Snowden's asylum in Moscow set to run out next June, it's been suggested that he could travel to Germany to testify and then apply for asylum here.

Despite the vocal support he has received in some quarters, it is far from clear whether the German government would back Snowden's asylum application, which would require Germany to break its extradition treaty with the U.S.

Merkel appears to be taking another tact by pushing for a new "no spy" agreement with Washington, which many expect could be signed early next year.