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16 Sep, 2019 12:34

Paris’ justice minister backs accepting Snowden, who floats taking refuge in France

Paris’ justice minister backs accepting Snowden, who floats taking refuge in France

Shortly after Edward Snowden flagged France as a place where he would want to live, the country’s justice minister said she personally supports granting asylum to the renowned whistleblower still in exile in Russia.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said France should stick “to our strong principles on immigration,” meaning that “we must accept asylum seekers,” local media reported on Sunday. When asked if Snowden could set foot on French soil someday, she replied: “Yes ... I back it.”

Belloubet then made it clear that she was speaking in a private capacity and that the statement wasn’t an official offer. The French presidency also disavowed her remarks later in the day, according to RTL.

READ MORE: There's no evidence to justify Assange's eviction, Snowden's lawyer says

Bellouet’s suggestion didn’t come out of the blue, as Snowden himself admitted he is considering France as his next destination. He told France’s Inter radio that he filed his asylum request back in 2013 under a previous administration, and “would love to see [Emmanuel] Macron roll out an invitation.”

Paris wouldn’t find itself in a precarious position if it accepts Snowden, he argued, saying, “it’s not about France, it’s about Europe, it’s about the world and the system that we have.”

Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act. Welcoming someone like me is not an attack on the United States.

Snowden, a former intelligence officer and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, is facing espionage charges that could land him in jail for 30 years. The US put him on the wanted list back in 2013, after he exposed a large-scale surveillance program run by NSA and its allies in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance.

He fled the US, briefly stopping in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow where he found his passport revoked by the State Department.

Russian authorities granted him asylum after intense negotiations with his lawyers on the condition that he wouldn’t carry out any activities against US interests.

Also on rt.com Lavrov on trading Snowden for sanctions relief: Russia sees US exile as ‘master of his own destiny’

While in exile, he authored a memoir entitled ‘Permanent Record’ which it set to be released worldwide this Tuesday.

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