– A European Parliament committee has invited Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has leaked classified government documents and is now in hiding in Russia, to testify via video as part of an inquiry into how to protect the privacy of European citizens.

The Parliament's Justice and Civil Liberties Committee voted to seek testimony from Snowden, whose exposures of the reach of surveillance activities by the United States on even its closest allies has raised global awareness about privacy issues and deeply embarrassed the Obama administration. He has become a hero among civil liberty advocates.

Dissenting voices in the Parliament tried to block the invitation. Some conservative members said Snowden had put national security at risk, and others warned that inviting him could undermine Europe's U.S. relations.

Snowden "has endangered lives," said Timothy Kirkhope, a British member from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

The investigation by the European Parliament is aimed at drafting recommendations to safeguard the privacy of Europeans and improve the security of computer systems.

No date for the testimony was set. It would be done by video so Snowden would not have to leave Russia, where he has been granted asylum for one year, and risk extradition to the United States, where he has been charged with espionage and theft.

New york times