Europe Just Made a Big Decision About Snowden

EU parliament calls on member states to grant him protection
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2015 1:22 PM CDT
Europe Just Made a Big Decision About Snowden
In this Feb. 14, 2015, file photo, Edward Snowden appears on a live video feed broadcast from Moscow at an event sponsored by ACLU of Hawaii in Honolulu.   (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

In a 285 to 281 vote, members of the European Union's parliament voted Thursday to urge 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 whistle-blower and international human rights defender," per a parliament statement. That means, as the International Business Times reports, that one of the EU's 28 members could theoretically allow Snowden to move there from Russia without planning to extradite him to the US. On Twitter, Snowden called the move "extraordinary" and a "game-changer," adding, "This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward."

But, as BuzzFeed reports, there aren't any EU charges against Snowden to drop, the EU's extradition agreement with the US is still in place, and the resolution the EU parliament passed isn't actually binding. Another resolution also notes that not enough has been done to safeguard EU citizens' "fundamental rights" regarding electronic mass surveillance, and calls on the EU Commission to "immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU," which BuzzFeed says is actually a bigger move than the Snowden part. Even so, Snowden's legal team is happy: "We welcome today's decision ... It is an overdue step and we urge the member States to act now to implement the resolution," a member of the team tells the Daily Dot. (More Edward Snowden stories.)

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