Edward Snowden asylum demand dropped

Edward-Snowden-Meets-With-011

The report will call for international protection for whistleblowers without mentioning Edward Snowden by name.

The European parliament is to ditch demands on Wednesday that EU governments give guarantees of asylum and security to Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower.

The parliament’s civil liberties committee is to vote on more than 500 amendments to the first ever parliamentary inquiry into the NSA and GCHQ scandal, a 60-page report that is damning about the scale and the impact of mass surveillance.

But there is no consensus on an amendment proposed by the Greens calling on EU governments to assure Snowden of his safety in the event that he emerges from hiding in Russia and comes to Europe.

Amid what key MEPs have described as intense pressure from national governments on parliament – from the Conservatives and their allies, from the mainstream centre-right and from social democrats – the asylum call has no chance of passing.

“The amendment asking for asylum won’t go through,” said Claude Moraes, the British Labour MEP who is the principal author of the report. “That was a red line for the right. There was never going to be a realistic majority for that.”

The proposed change to the report would have read: “[Parliament] calls on EU member states to drop criminal charges, if any, against Edward Snowden and to offer him protection from prosecution, extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender.”

Instead the report will call for international protection for whistleblowers without mentioning Snowden by name. Another amendment calling on the Americans not to prosecute Snowden is also unlikely to be adopted, parliamentary sources said.

“The only reason for this whole thing is Snowden and now he doesn’t get mentioned. It’s ridiculous,” said Jan-Philip Albrecht, a German Green and co-author of the amendment.

The failure to make Snowden-specific demands comes amid wrangling over whether the whistleblower will and should be able to testify to the committee.

His lawyers told leading MEPs last week that he was prepared to testify via video from Moscow and questions have been sent to him. While the Conservatives opposed allowing him to testify on the NSA furore, parliamentary leaders have backed the idea by a majority.

But they are still arguing over the format of the testimony – whether live or pre-recorded video or in written answers to submitted questions. They are to meet next week to try to settle the issue.

The Americans are strongly opposed to Snowden testifying and MEPs say there has been enormous pressure from EU governments on the parliament to drop or dilute the report, which is to go before the full chamber in March.

“There has been a huge amount of pressure in the past few weeks,” said Moraes. “From the member states. Most have not been friendly. They regard all this as a national competence and nothing to do with us.”

Source | TheGuardian

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