RTSW01X
Edward Snowden speaks via video link during a conference at University of Buenos Aires Law School, Argentina,Nov. 14, 2016. Reuters

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden should be rewarded with asylum in the European Union for leaking to the world how the U.S. spies on its allies and enemies alike, his lawyer said Monday. Snowden, who faces charges in the U.S. of leaking confidential information, has asylum in Russia through 2020, but has long sought a friendlier haven in the West.

Wolfgang Kaleck, a German lawyer and one of Snowden’s legal representatives, said during a hearing at the European Parliament that an EU nation should open its arms to Snowden. He said the 1,000-year sentence Edwards could face in the U.S. is “against all European standards.”

“We think the European Union member states have the obligation to support him,” he said. Kaleck listed Spain, Iceland and Germany as potential havens for Snowden.

“We’re not desperate,” Kaleck added, referring to Russia’s recent approval of a three-year asylum extension for Snowden.

Snowden's future is uncertain after former President Barack Obama refused to pardon him and newly elected President Donald Trump, who seems to have a cozy relationship with Russia President Vladimir Putin, has not indicated whether he will take a softer approach. Trump has called Snowden a “traitor” in the past.

Snowden has not formally applied for asylum in an EU country, but in 2015, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution declaring Snowden would not be returned to the U.S. if he ever made it into Europe. The document stated that Snowden was a "whistle-blower and international human rights defender.”

“This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends,” Snowden said at the time in a statement on Twitter. “It is a chance to move forward.”

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Ben Wizner has also called on the European Union to grant Snowden asylum. He also singled out Iceland, where the pro-privacy Pirate Party won 14.5 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in October, as a potential partner.

“People are looking with a lot of optimism towards Iceland right now,” he said.

Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have offered Snowden asylum in the past, but his supporters have expressed concern that travel to those countries could be intercepted by the U.S.

MEET IBT NEWS FROM BELOW CHANNELS

© Copyright IBTimes 2022. All rights reserved.