Edward Snowden deserves respect, along with other whistleblowers like him -- at least in the mind of Germany's President Joachim Gauck. The comments are a contradiction to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that Berlin will not shelter Snowden.
Gauck helped expose East Germany's Stasi secret police, so it's not a surprise he'd be willing to give Snowden and others like him a pass.
While Gauck has little power, he is a great moral authority in the country, reports Reuters. In his statement about Snowden the German president asserted that people who work for the state have an obligation to act according to their conscience. And that also means exposing things they feel are wrong.
Gauck added, "This will normally only be put right if information is made public. Whoever draws the public's attention to it and acts out of conscience deserves respect."
It was unusual for Gauck to speak out on such a hot button issue. However, the conversation surrounding Edward Snowden could become fodder for debate in Germany's upcoming elections this September.
Merkel hopes to win a third term, but she has struggled between maintaining a good relationship with the United States and understanding her citizens' outrage at a possible surveillance state, notes Yahoo! News.
However, Gauck isn't in the same position, leaving him free to say that whistleblowers should be respected. The German president added, "The fear that our telephones or mails are recorded and stored by foreign intelligence services is a constraint on the feeling of freedom and then the danger grows that freedom itself is damaged."
The comments also come after Der Spiegel accused Germany of cooperating with the United States to spy on its citizens, even using at least one of the programs uncovered by the US whistleblower last month. Merkel has offered few answers to citizens outraged by the reports.
Do you agree with Germany's president that whistleblowers like Edward Snowden should be respected.