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October 29, 2015

European MEPs vote to protect Snowden from extradition

News: NSA whistleblower could leave Russia after landmark vote.

By Alexander Sword

The European Parliament has voted to ask member states grant protection to Edward Snowden, meaning that he could now theoretically be able to enter member states without fear of extradition to the United States.

A resolution, passed by 285 votes to 281, calls on member states to grant protection to the American whistleblower as a "human rights defender".

Snowden, who is currently in Moscow after leaking documents revealing the extent of spying by the National Security Agency, faces being repatriated to the US if he enters a country that has an extradition treaty with his homeland.

The resolution asks member states to "grant [Snowden] protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender"."

However, a resolution, according to the EU law blog Europedia, is not binding but simply indicates a desire to move in a particular direction.
As it is not binding, unlike a ‘regulation’, it is unclear how many EU states would be willing to offer such protection, and what the reaction of the US would be if they did.

Snowden tweeted:

"Hearing reports EU just voted 285-281, overcoming huge pressure, to cancel all charges against me and prevent extradition. Game-changer."

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He added in another tweet:

"This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward."

In the same resolution, MEPs raised "concerns" over the growth in mass surveillance in the EU, including in France, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

By 342 votes to 274, with 29 abstentions, the Parliament drew attention to the "lack of action" taken by EU institutions on the recommendations set out by Parliament in the resolution of 12 March 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens.


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