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France rejects Snowden's asylum request

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Manuel Valls. Photo: AFP
10:23 CEST+02:00
France officially rejected an application for asylum by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Thursday leaving the fugitive former CIA operative facing a narrowing number of options as he seeks to avoid being forced to return to the US.

France said on Thursday it was rejecting a request for asylum from fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

"Like many countries, France received a request for asylum from Mr. Edward Snowden through its embassy in Moscow. Given the legal analysis and the situation of the interested party, France will not agree," the interior ministry said in a statement.

Earlier in the day French Interior Minister Manuel Valls made FRances position clear on the matter when he said that he was opposed to granting Snowden asylum.

At that time Valls told BMFTV that France had not received a request for asylum from Snowden. He said such a request would be studied but that he personally opposed it. It was the first time a French government official has explicitly rejected the idea of granting Snowden asylum.

"This request, if it is made, poses a number of legal problems. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not in favour," Valls said, noting: "The United States is a democratic country, with an independent judicial system."

Snowden has been holed up in a Moscow airport transit area since June 23rd, seeking to avoid US espionage charges for revealing a vast surveillance programme to collect phone and Internet data. He had initially requested asylum in 21 countries.

Valls's words come a day after German media reported that Berlin had officially turned down the asylum request from Snowden as the whistleblower's options appear to narrow by the day and the prospect of him remaining holed up in Moscow airport for quite some time increases.

Earlier this week, several political parties in France, including the far-right National Front and the far-left Parti de Gauche, called on President François Hollande to come to Snowden's aid.

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

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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."

Where does Snowden go from here? How do you think it will all end? Let us know in the comments section below.

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