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French parties call for Snowden political asylum

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should be given political asylum in France, party leaders from across the political spectrum have said in the wake of the latest US spying allegations.


French party leaders from across the political spectrum have called on France to grant US whistleblower Edward Snowden political asylum, amid demands for ongoing free trade talks between the EU and Washington to be put on hold.

Jean-Luc Mélanchon, leader of France’s Left Party (Parti de Gauche) told BFMTV on Sunday that the extent of alleged US spying on European communications was “arrogant” and “breathtaking”.

“The Americans are spying on EU institutions, so they are already fully aware of the mandate for negotiations that the EU has begun with the US for a free trade agreement,” he said. “We should put these negotiations on hold until the Americans have given some clarity.”

He said France should grant Edward Snowden – currently in transit limbo in a Russian airport without valid travel documents and without any country yet saying it would welcome him – immediate political asylum.

“Edward Snowden... has done us a good service,” he said. “It’s thanks to him that we know we have been spied on. It is not acceptable that we allow a situation whereby he wanders uncertainly around the planet. He is a defender of all our freedoms.”

Millions of German communications

Over the weekend, the UK’s Guardian newspaper alleged that the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored French – and other US allies’ – diplomatic communications from Washington.

Meanwhile German daily Der Spiegel on Saturday claimed that the NSA had bugged European Union offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks.

The following day the newspaper alleged that the US agency had tapped half a billion phone calls, text messages and emails in Germany every month – much more than any other country.

The allegations have led to consternation from EU officials, as well as in Germany, a country that is particularly sensitive about privacy and data protection, a key issue in free trade talks with the US.

Greens and far-right join asylum call

On Monday, French President François Hollande told the United States on Monday to “immediately stop” spying on European institutions.

"We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies," Hollande told journalists during a visit to the northwestern French city of Lorient. "We ask that this immediately stop."

And while Hollande stopped short of responding to requests that France grant Snowden asylum, other parties echoed Mélanchon’s call.

“France must give this whistle blower and defender of freedom political asylum without delay,” the Green Party, in coalition with the ruling Socialists, said in a statement. “It would serve to remind the US, as it enters into free trade talks with the EU, that France wholeheartedly rejects the US stance on data protection.”

And in a rare show of cross-party unity, Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front and at the very opposite end of the political spectrum from Mélanchon’s Left Party also said France had a duty to take Snowden under its wing.

“Snowden has let the whole world know what the US is doing, and he’s being hunted down for it,” she told LCI television on Monday. “If we don’t give this man political asylum, what use does political asylum serve?”


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