World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Parliament has urged member states to drop criminal charges against U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and called on the EU Commission to provide better protection for citizens against mass surveillance.
MEPs passed a resolution demanding EU member states "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 whistleblower and international human rights defender."
Snowden reacted to the vote by tweeting: "Hearing reports EU just voted 285-281, overcoming huge pressure, to cancel all charges against me and prevent extradition. Game-changer."
"This is not a blow against the U.S. Government, but an open hand extended by friends," Snowden later tweeted, adding: "It is a chance to move forward."
Snowden, 32, is currently living in Russia where he has been granted asylum after disclosing thousands of documents to journalists that outlined secret U.S. mass-surveillance programs, which spanned the Internet and phone networks.
Separately, MEPs approved another resolution criticizing the European Commission, among others, for not properly applying a previous resolution from March 2014. It urged the Commission "to ensure that all data transfers to the U.S. are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU."
"MEPs consider the Commission's response so far to Parliament's 2014 resolution 'highly inadequate' given the extent of the revelations of mass surveillance. EU citizens' fundamental rights remain in danger and too little has been done to ensure their full protection," read a statement.
MEPs also voiced their concern about recent bills passed in France, the U.K. and the Netherlands, among others, that extend surveillance and the power of intelligence agencies.
The resolution pointed out the revelations of collaboration between German intelligence with its U.S. counterpart as an example.