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European Parliament votes to drop Edward Snowden’s criminal charges

The United States government still wants Edward Snowden to stand trial for espionage, but the European Parliament has voted in favor of dropping criminal charges. The vote extends to offering asylum for Snowden and protecting him from extradition.

It is not a guaranteed ticket out of Russia for the whistleblower, but a big move by Europe to defy American extradition. The European Parliament asks for one of its member states to offer Snowden asylum, but each country has the ability to decline Snowden’s asylum request.

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No European state has come forward so far. Previous media reports of France or Germany offering asylum to Snowden were shut down quickly by both governments. With the European Parliament in agreement however, we might see new openings for Snowden.

Not all European countries are supportive of Snowden. The United Kingdom, for example, detained former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda under the Terrorism 2000 Act. The police seized all of Miranda’s electronics, in an attempt to destroy any of Snowden’s leaked documents. Snowden has also regularly attacked the U.K. for its lack of anti-surveillance measures and attacks on allied corporations.

Snowden commented on Twitter in response to the vote, claiming it was a “game changer” and “chance to move forward.” Reports claim Snowden has been unhappy living in Moscow with his partner Lindsay Mills, especially with the increasing surveillance in the country.

Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have all offered asylum to the whistleblower, but Snowden’s legal team has been unable to secure travel without the threat of a U.S. intervention. Going into Europe would be the safest option for Snowden.

To some, Snowden is a hero, to others, a traitor. The whistleblower is never going to be fully supported wherever he ends up, but by leaking information on U.S. and global surveillance operations he has paved the way to new spying reforms, which is good enough for the European Parliament.