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Calls for Snowden to be given French citizenship

Ben McPartland · 12 Jun 2014, 16:36

Published: 12 Jun 2014 16:36 GMT+02:00

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A campaign in France to grant asylum to Edward Snowden gained momentum this week when two senators lodged a proposal to make the US fugitive an honorary French citizen.

The move by two centrists Catherine Morin-Desailly and Chantal Jouanno comes just a week after a petition calling for Snowden to be granted asylum in France gained 33,000 signatures in less than 12 hours.

The petition would not have gone down well with US authorities and the senators provocative move to make Snowden an honorary French citizen will only stoke the flames even further.

The senators said the president of France and the Prime Minister “had a responsibility” to grant asylum to the former NSA agent.

The text of the proposal recognizes that Snowden was responsible for launching a “healthy and urgent reflection on the legitimacy of phone tapping” and stressed “the special obligation of France in respect” of the fugitive.

“The revelations around Edward Snowden have shown that the massive data collection by the NSA citizens around the world went beyond the framework of the fight against terrorism or other geopolitical risks,” the pair said in a statement.

“No administrative hindrance should stand in the way of his asylum in France,” they added.

The former NSA intelligence agent provoked the wrath of the US when he leaked thousands of documents revealing the extent of US spying on citizens and organisations around the world.

The documents Snowden leaked to journalists have repeatedly exposed the vastness of America's information gathering via electronic means and have prompted awkward political confrontations and embarrassments. The files at one point revealed American intelligence services had tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

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Another centrist MP Yves Jégo lodged a similar proposal to the senators in May in the National Assembly.

Though the petition and the calls for Snowden to be given French citizenship have struck a chord with the public, the likelihood of the fugitive setting up home in Paris or Provence is unlikely. The government has not officially reacted, but Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview on BFM TV on Tuesday that he was "not favorable" towards harboring Snowden.

The move comes at a time when US - French relations are strained due to a dispute over the decision by US authorities to fine French bank BNP billions of dollars for breaking a trade embargo with Iran.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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