The Members of European Parliament voted to recommend clearing Edward Snowden of criminal charges. The vote is not binding but sets a precedent for European nations to not extradite the former National Security Agency contractor to the U.S.
Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013, after he leaked documents that revealed the extent of the NSA’s controversial surveillance program. He has been charged with theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act by the U.S. government, according to The New York Times.
While Snowden has previously applied for asylum in numerous European nations, each denied him, The Huffington Post reports.
While Snowden has been granted asylum by several South American countries, he would likely be intercepted by U.S. authorities in any attempt to relocate there, according to The Huffington Post.
On Oct. 29, MEP passed a resolution that recommends all charges against Snowden be dropped.
The proposition asks all 28 nations in the European Union to "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 whistle-blower and international human rights defender,” reports The Huffington Post.
The vote was close, with 285 parliamentary members for and 281 against, according to The New York Times.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said, “Our position has not changed,” according to The New York Times.
“Mr. Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and faces felony charges here in the United States,” says Price. “As such, he should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process.”
Snowden tweeted out his appreciation for the MEP’s resolution.
“This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends,” Snowden wrote. “It is a chance to move forward."
Snowden claimed on Oct. 5 that he would be willing to serve a prison sentence if it meant he could return to the U.S., according to NBC News.
“I've volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," says Snowden.