EU Parliament Passes Resolution in Support of Edward Snowden

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(CNN) — The European Parliament voted Thursday in support of a resolution that calls on member states to drop criminal charges against Edward Snowden and to protect him from extradition.

The vote, which has no legal force, was 285-281. The resolution urges nations to drop the charges and “consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender.”

Snowden, a former contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency, leaked documents about top secret mass surveillance programs. He fled the United States and spent more than a month living in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport before being granted asylum.

On Twitter, Snowden called Thursday’s vote 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,” he wrote.

The Justice Department has said that Snowden would face criminal prosecution were he to return to the United States. He’s been charged with three felony counts, including violations of the U.S. Espionage Act.

Snowden told the BBC in an interview this month that he’s offered “many times” to go to prison in the United States as part of a deal to return from exile in Russia, but is still waiting for an answer from the American government.

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