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MEPs vote to welcome "human rights defender" Edward Snowden in Europe

Irish MEPs voted 6-4 in favour of the resolution, which Snowden himself has called a “game-changer.”

snowden Source: PA Images

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has voted to approve a resolution on mass surveillance which includes a request to EU nations to grant “protection” to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The report expressed frustration with the European Commission’s “inadequate reaction” to revelations of American surveillance of EU citizens, and called on the Commission to ensure any data transfers from Europe to the US be subject to an “effective level of protection.”

The parliament voted 342-274 in favour of the resolution as a whole.

In a plenary session in the Strasbourg chamber this afternoon, the parliament voted 285-281 in favour of this article:

[The European Parliament] calls on the 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.

The Irish votes on welcoming Snowden in the EU were as follows:

For: Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy, Nessa Childers, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Marian Harkin, Liadh Ni Riada.

Against: Deirdre Clune, Brian Hayes, Seán Kelly, Mairead McGuinness.

No vote or abstention was recorded for Independent, former Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carty told TheJournal.ie he would be “very happy” to welcome Snowden to his constituency of Midlands-North-West.

Edward Snowden has been forced into exile, separated from his friends and family, risking life and liberty to expose mass surveillance of my neighbours and innocent people all over the world.
People like him should be given every protection by the international community. That is why Sinn Féin MEPs supported the amendment.

Asked if he would be happy for Ireland to grant the whistleblower a visa, asylum or protective status, Carthy added:

I would be very happy to welcome him to my constituency if and when the Taoiseach plucks up the courage to stand up for what is right.

Snowden, who is living in Russia after having his American passport revoked during a flight there, has been charged with espionage in the US.

This evening, he said the vote represented “an open hand extended by friends,” and called it a “game-changer.”

The vote is not legally binding, but constitutes a symbolic landmark, and could indicate a sea change in attitudes towards Snowden at the highest level of European politics.

Read: Europe’s top court has torn up the rules on how US tech giants use your data>

Opinion: Snowden leaks provided momentum to bring us to this crucial point in data protection>

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Dan MacGuill

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