USA TODAY US Edition
EU leaders tell members to protect Snowden
The European Parliament passed a resolution Thursday urging European Union nations to protect former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from extradition to the U.S., calling him an “international human rights defender.”
The resolution, barely gaining approval by a 285-281 vote, was a symbolic nod to Snowden and snub at the Obama administra- tion. The White House wants Snowden to return from de facto exile in Russia to face charges that include two counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of theft of government property.
The resolution calls on EU member states to “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 whistleblower and international human rights defender.”
“Game-changer,” Snowden tweeted, adding, “This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward.” The White House was unmoved by the developments.
“Our position has not changed,” said Ned Price, spokesperson for the National Security Council. “Mr. Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and faces felony charges here in the United States. As such, he should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process.”
Snowden, 32, is a North Carolina native who worked for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton when he leaked details of U.S. surveillance programs to The
Guardian and The Washington Post. The first reports were published in June 2013, setting off an immediate global firestorm.