PRISM: Kirkhope calls for calm heads, not posturing

03-Jul-2013 @ 18:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

MEPs were today encouraged to remain calm and to wait for proper fact-based evidence rather than rushing to condemn the USA over spying allegations.

Conservative justice and civil liberties spokesman Timothy Kirkhope said some MEPs preferred posturing, headline-grabbing and a witch-hunt to finding out the facts.

In a debate on the so-called PRISM surveillance allegations made against America by Edward Snowden, Mr Kirkhope said: "This house talks about rules, procedures, and conformity with EU law, yet I don't recall seeing in the European Treaties that the European Parliament was to be appointed judge, jury and executioner. I also must have missed the passage that appointed the European Parliament as the moral authority for all of Europe."

The Yorkshire MEP, himself a former Conservative home affairs minister, pointed out that the European Council, the European Commission and the European External Action had all called for more information and for more facts before they could comment further. Yet the Parliament seemed set on rushing to judgment and bad law-making.

He said Conservatives would not condemn the USA based on allegations that were yet to be corroborated.

Mr Kirkhope told the debate in Strasbourg: "Of course security services should not only protect our lives, but our also liberty, but I believe in a kind of democracy where you think first and act later. That means gathering facts before you recommend, threaten, or compromise international agreements and anti-terrorism measures."

He levelled specific criticism at Green and Socialist MEPs, observing: "The Socialist group have submitted an amendment which calls for the freezing of trade negotiations with the U.S. My group will oppose this amendment, because at a time of 26 million unemployed in Europe it is shameful to seek to scupper something so valuable. It shows that socialists want to put posturing ahead of prosperity.

"And for the Green Group to suggest awarding Mr Snowden the Sakharov Prize is nothing short of an insult to the inspirational freedom fighters who have deserved this prize such as Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Guillermo Farinas who we honoured here earlier today."
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