The European Parliament [official website] voted 342-274 on Thursday to approve [press release] a resolution encouraging its member countries not to extradite Edward Snowden [BBC profile] to the US. In an affirmative act passed by a vote of 285-281, Parliament also called upon its member states to drop all criminal charges against Snowden and offer him protection as an “international human rights defender.” This decision is in response to Snowden’s revelations about the electronic mass surveillance tactics employed by various governmental agencies, and the significant concern in the EU that these surveillance tactics have adversely affected the fundamental rights of its citizens. Snowden was indicted [JURIST report] in the US in 2013 and is currently living in Moscow.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] contractor and computer professional, became famous in 2013 for leaking classified information. His leak ultimately led to significant revelations about global mass surveillance programs employed by various governments, particularly the US. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and other US human rights organizations challenged the surveillance by the NSA, although the US District Court for the District of Maryland [official website] dismissed one such case [JURIST report] on Tuesday. The question of Snowden’s guilt [JURIST op-ed] and the legitimacy of the charges against him have been debated and analyzed widely in the U.S.