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Calls grow for France to grant Snowden asylum
Photo: The Guardian/AFP

Calls grow for France to grant Snowden asylum

Published: 01 Jul 2013 12:27 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jul 2013 13:14 GMT+02:00

Political parties from across the divide in France demanded on Monday that Paris grant asylum to the fugitive former CIA operative Edward Snowden, as reward for his "courage" in blowing the lid off how the US had spied on French envoys in America.

The latest revelations from Snowden were carried in Britain’s Guardian newspaper and Germany's Der Spiegel over the weekend.

Documents leaked by the NSA whistleblower claim to show how the French embassy in Washington DC was one of 38 spying "target"s for US intelligence services, which included EU missions to the US.

The reports have been met with fury across the political spectrum in France and on Monday parties united in calling for Snowden to be granted asylum as a reward for leaking documents revealing the extent of US surveillance operations.

France’s Green party the EELV (Europe, Ecologie-Les Verts), which has two ministers in the Socialist-led government, urged President François Hollande to help Snowden, “a defender of freedom” for “raising the alert”.

In a statement the party said: “The EELV and all its French and European MPs solemnly request the President of the Republic and the government grant political asylum to a man who  had the courage to reveal the existence of illegal surveillance but also allowed us to know the extent of it, which included the EU offices in the United Nations and Brussels."

'Whistleblowers need to be protected'.

In the eyes of the Greens there were two reasons why the former CIA operative, who is currently stranded in Moscow airport in the hands of the Russian authorities, should be granted safe passage to France.

“It would be a reminder that France’s intention is to protect all whistleblowers, whatever their nationality, because they are an essential safeguard of democracy,” the statement from the party said.

The second motive for allowing Snowden to come to France would be to show the US that “France rejects the American diktat over data protection and violations of basic civil liberties in the name of the fight against terrorism.

In a sign of how deep the anger is in France over the spying allegation the leaders of the far-left and far-right have shown rare agreement in calling on Hollande to come to Snowden’s aid.

'If we don't protect Snowden who will be protect?'

National Front leader Marine le Pen and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon both believe Snowden should be granted asylum although they two did spar over who was fist to issue the demand.

On Sunday Mélenchon said: I request that France grant political asylum to Mr Snowden, a benefactor of Europe, who helped uncover this conspiracy.”

Le Pen accused Mélenchon of trying to "jump on the bandwagon" saying:  “I was the first to demand that France grants political asylum to Edward Snowden, the whistleblower over this spying affair.

“We must protect someone who has worked for the good of the public,” she added. “If we don’t grant asylum to Snowden then who exactly are we going to grant it to.”

Despite the obvious anger in Paris the French government has so far tempered its response to the spying revelations.

Although Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has demanded explanations from Washington DC, ministers have been guarded over the question of granting Edward Snowden asylum.

In an interview with BFMTV government minister Fleur Pellerin said “there was a need to look at the lack of an international status that could protect whistleblowers.”

She added that the Snowden case fell in to a “grey area of international law”.

A deputy from the ruling Socialist party, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said ‘The EU should first increase the pressure by asking the US to she shed some light on the affair.”

What do you think? Should France grant political asylum to Snowden?

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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