Snowden, Assange could get ‘symbolic’ asylum offers – French justice minister

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (Reuters/Charles Platiau)
The French justice minister said she would not be surprised if, in light of the latest revelations about the NSA spying on country’s leaders, France offers political asylums to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, as a “symbolic gesture.”

Commenting on a WikiLeaks report claiming that the US had been spying on three leaders of France from 2006 until 2012, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told BFM TV that it was, of course, an “absolutely unspeakable practice.”

“If France decides to offer asylum to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, I would not be shocked,” said Taubira.

It would be a “symbolic gesture,” she said, while adding that it is up to the French PM Manuel Valls and the president Francois Hollande to decide.

READ MORE: Obama tells Hollande US was not spying on French president

Earlier this week, WikiLeaks announced a plan to reveal a new collection of reports and documents on the US National Security Agency, concerning its alleged interception of communications within the French government over the last ten years. The documents revealed that the last three French presidents were allegedly spied on by Washington.

The information leaked thus far by WikiLeaks has caused strong criticism from French politicians with President Hollande releasing a statement saying that the spying is “unacceptable”and “France will not tolerate it.” The White House rejected the report with President Barack Obama reassuring Hollande he was not spied on.

Minister Taubira’s comments meanwhile seem to reflect the general mood in France. On Thursday an opinion peace in France’s Libération newspaper said that offering Edward Snowden safe haven is a “single gesture” that would send “a clear and useful message to Washington,” in response to American “contempt” in spying on France’s elite.

READ MORE: Hollande says US spying 'unacceptable' after WikiLeaks report, ambassador summoned

Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor has been granted a temporary asylum by Moscow after he leaked classified information from the NSA back in 2013. The information leaked resulted in a series of global scandals as he has exposed numerous surveillance programs run by the NSA and the Five Eyes in cooperation with telecommunication and IT companies.

Julian Assange meanwhile remains a political prisoner inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after the country granted him asylum in 2012. Assange is under Swedish investigation into sexual offenses, which he strongly denies and views it as an American attempt to eventually extradite him to Washington. The editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks gained mass recognition in 2010 after publishing US military and diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning.