Well this is something. After years of pressure from activists, the European Parliament just passed a resolution urging its member states to offer protection to Edward Snowden. That would mean dropping all charges against the whistleblower and shielding him from extradition to the United States.
For Snowden, who's been holed up in Russia for as long as anybody can remember, this is really great news. The former NSA contractor said as much on Twitter:
Hearing reports EU just voted 285-281, overcoming huge pressure, to cancel all charges against me and prevent extradition. Game-changer.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 29, 2015
The extent to which the European parliament's actions will actually help to keep Snowden out of US prison, however, remains to be seen. The resolution itself is non-binding, and all of the European nations involved in passing it have extradition treaties with the US. However, the world will take notice, now that a (slight) majority of MEPs voted 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."
Snowden's lawyer in Berlin, Wolfgang Kaleck, called the vote "an overdue step" and implored the EU member states "to act now to implement the resolution." The White House, however, is less than miffed.
"Our position has not changed," said Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council told The New York Times. "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."
Let's be honest, though. If any of Europe's beautiful countries do agree to take Snowden in, it's a win for the whistleblower. After all, the weather in Sicily is much nicer than it is in Moscow.
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