European politicians have passed a resolution urging member states across the European Union (EU) to drop all charges against Edward Snowden.
The vote was passed by a narrow 285 to 281. The resolution claimed that Snowden had helped European citizens by revealing how their privacy is at risk from mass surveillance, and that he should be considered a hero.
The resolution called on 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”.
Commenting on the vote, Snowden said on Twitter that the vote was “extraordinary” and a “chance to move forward”.
This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward. pic.twitter.com/fBs5H32wyD
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 29, 2015
Snowden is currently living in exile in Russia having fled first to Hong Kong when he leaked documents in 2013 detailing the extensive surveillance tactics used by the US and UK to monitor global internet traffic.
The vote underlines the current strength of feeling regarding mass surveillance and data monitoring, particularly after the European Court of Justice’s ruling in the Safe Harbour case earlier this year.
“This ruling has confirmed the long-standing position of Parliament regarding the lack of an adequate level of protection under this instrument,” they said.
As a result the European Parliament said the European Commission should “immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US is subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU”.
The MEPs are also concerned by moves from some member states, such as France and the UK, to extend surveillance laws, despite the Snowden revelations.