Overnight, federal prosecutors in Germany reopened an issue first exposed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, announcing they'll begin an investigation into the alleged spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The move comes nearly a year after Snowden leaked details about global surveillance by the National Security Agency. Chancellor Merkel was among the European heads of state whose personal phones were tapped by Washington. The report says she had been under surveillance since 2002. (Via The White House, Wikimedia Commons / Aleph, World Economic Forum)
Surprisingly, the NSA itself will not be part of the investigation — yet. Prosecutors broadened their probe by charging an "unknown" suspected party instead.
Attorney General Harald Range said in a statement Wednesday, "Extensive preliminary investigations have established that sufficient factual evidence exists that unknown members of US intelligence services spied on the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.” (Via Der Generalbundesanwalt)
All eyes turned next to Snowden, who has said before he's ready to talk to prosecutors. However, his testimony isn't guaranteed.
If he were to testify in person, the EU country could go against U.S. requests for extradition. CNN reports prosecutors and top political leaders in Germany are torn on whether to grant Snowden asylum. (Via NBC)
"There are a lot of German politicians who are asking Germany to take in Edward Snowden and interview him as a witness because it was his revelations that started this in the first place. The German government has been trying to stonewall their people trying to start other from happening." (Via CNN)
Other key players who could end up on the stand include Silicon Valley's brightest minds.
"Federal prosecutors in Germany just announced they're opening an investigation into alleged NSA surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel. … Prosecutors say they're considering calling the heads of companies, including Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google, to testify." (Via KTNV)
Last year, Snowden revealed major tech companies had complied with NSA requests to share user communications with the federal government. That included gathering information from Europeans. (Via The Washington Post, Flickr / Steve Rhodes)
It's typical for tech companies to comply with requests from the feds, but most recently, there's been debate over whether those companies should tell individuals they're being monitored.
A representative for Merkel has declined to comment on the case. Some politicians and German citizens hope the investigation's findings will launch future cases to probe how the NSA tracked the general population.