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A European Parliament vote calling for the protection of whistle-blower Edward Snowden from prosecution and extradition is more than symbolic, supporters say. But the resolution is unlikely to help Snowden anytime soon.
In a vote of 285 to 281, the European Parliament urged 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 whistle-blower and international human rights defender.”
Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked millions of documents showing the extent of US and British government bulk surveillance,said on Twitterthe vote was a "game-changer."
Snowden brought to the public and lawmakers' attention "the secret practices of state-sponsored surveillance and mass spying regimes justified under the zero sum game of national security and the real risk they pose to democratic governance, individual privacy and human rights," said Drake.
Snowden still in limbo
As a non-binding resolution, however, the European Parliament's bold statement is unlikely to allow Snowden freedom of movement or asylum in Europe anytime soon.
Klaus Dienelt, a German migration and asylum expert who directs the Internet portal Migration Rights, told DW that "the declaration doesn't really change the legal situation."
Dienelt recalled the fact that Snowden had previously considered testifying before a German parliamentary committee on the NSA's surveillance program - including the spy agency listening in on Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone conversations.
Ultimately, Snowden did not come to Germany because it was unclear whether he would be arrested and extradited to the United States.
The problem for Snowden, even if he can claim to be a whistle-blower in fear of persecution, is that EU countries require asylum requests to be made inside the country where the asylum seeker would like to take refuge.
Snowden also needs to be careful of airspace, as evinced in 2013 when the US pressured Italy, Spain and France to close their airspaces to Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane on its return from Moscow,after Morales said his country would grant asylum to Snowden. Morales' plane was diverted to Austria and allowed to travel on after it was found Snowden was not on board.
One wrong step and you are in prison.....................
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