European Parliament votes to grant Snowden amnesty

Members of the house called the whistleblower a "human rights defender" in the non-legally binding vote.

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(Image: file photo/European Parliament AV)

The European Parliament has voted to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden protections across the 28 member state block against extradition or rendition to the US, where he faces espionage charges.

In a statement, the former US government contractor was called a "human rights defender" for leaking thousands of documents that detail the vast scope of US government surveillance.

Members of the house voted 285-281 in favor to adopt a motion that called on the 28 member states of the EU 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."

The vote in the parliament may be significant in statute, but it is not legally binding.

Voting members of the house said the European Commission's response in the wake of the disclosures has been "highly inadequate," and warned that "EU citizens' fundamental rights remain in danger" and "too little has been done to ensure their full protection."

In a series of tweets, Snowden welcomed the news, calling the vote by parliamentarians a "game-changer."

"This is not a blow against the US government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward," said Snowden.

The Obama administration on the other hand said its position has "not changed," and called for Snowden to return to the US "as soon as possible" to face charges.

Snowden currently lives in Moscow after the Russian government granted him asylum in 2013.

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