EU leaders tell members to protect Snowden

- John Bacon

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.

 ?? AFP/GETTY IMAGES ?? Snowden

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