NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will make a pre-recorded video appearance at the European parliament.

"The meeting will be live-streamed but the statement will be recorded answers of our questions, which we will send in advance," German Green MEP Jan Phillip Albrecht said.

A live stream of the whistleblower himself would run the risk of revealing his location, Albrecht added.

MEPs were in contact with Snowden through his lawyer who appeared at an earlier hearing of the civil liberties committee inquiry into the NSA exposé, which has deeply embarrassed the Obama administration and led to an international outcry about the US secret services' surveillance programme.

Albrecht said that Snowden had been keeping up to date with the parliamentary hearings "because it is one of the only places where a real debate is taking place, at the moment".

The former intelligence contractor is currently residing in Russia after authorities granted him asylum and is rumoured to be working on the Russian version of Facebook, VKontakte.

Snowden, a computer expert who used to work for the CIA, was charged in the US with espionage after leaking a massive tranche of top-secret documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post in May.