‘Game-Changer': European Parliament Urges Asylum for Edward Snowden

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EU Parliament Votes Snowden Should Have Asylum On Human Rights Grounds.

The European Parliament narrowly adopted a nonbinding but nonetheless forceful resolution on Thursday urging the EU 28 member states to recognise Edward J.While Snowden celebrated the vote in a tweet as “extraordinary”, the motion will have little real impact on his ability to leave Russia, where he currently lives in an undisclosed location.

Nevertheless, the message, passed 285-281, was clear: the European Commission and their member states must “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender”. On Twitter, Mr Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents about electronic surveillance by the US government, called the vote a “game-changer.” But the resolution has no legal force and limited practical effect for Mr Snowden, who is living in Russia on a three-year residency permit. The Intercept reports that the resolution, part of a much larger report with recommendations on how the E.U. must protect privacy in the digital era, came shortly after a separate ruling from the E.U.’s Court of Justice that negated the Safe Harbor Agreement, a 15-year-old arrangement that allowed the United States to import European customers’ data while obeying the E.U.’s privacy laws. The court cited the recent creation of laws in member states, notably the UK, France, and the Netherlands ”that extend surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies.” While Snowden claims he was doing his duty as a citizen by informing his countrymen of wide-scale data surveillance programmes, he still faces charges of theft of state property and espionage in the US. In addition to calling for asylum for Snowden the MEPs issued a press release warning of the continued dangers mass surveillance poses to its citizens’ human rights.

Tensions between the EU and U.S. have been boiling since Snowden himself released a trove of classified documents that outlined the scope of the American surveillance state. “Too little has been done to safeguard citizens’ fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance,” the MEPs wrote in the press release.

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