Brussels, 29/10/2015. European Parliament MEPs today called on EU member states to “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties.” The call, carried by a narrow margin (285 tom 281), is stated as “in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender.”
MEPs also recorded their dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in Europe to date on safeguarding citizens’ fundamental rights, a topic that has gained traction as evidence of more and more uncontrolled surveillance has emerged across the EU. Reports have continued to surface in recent months on extended surveillance in France, the UK and the Netherlands, as well as mass surveillance of telecoms and internet traffic by the German intelligence agency BND.
This resolution, approved by 342 votes to 274 with 29 abstentions, notes the lack of action taken by the European Commission, other EU institutions and member states on the recommendations set out by Parliament in March 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens.
Parliament calls on the Commission to “immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU”. It invites the Commission to reflect immediately on alternatives to Safe Harbour and on any other programmes transferring personal data to the US, and to report on the matter by the end of 2015.
As well as welcoming the 6 October European Court of Justice judgement rejecting Safe Harbour, European Parliamentarians have reiterated their call for the suspension of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) agreement (also known as the SWIFT agreement) with the US.
MEPs want to see an EU strategy for greater IT independence and online privacy; one that focuses on meaningful democratic oversight of intelligence activities. Without such oversight, they believe, there is little chance of rebuilding trust with the US.
© Philip Hunt, 2015
NUJ Brussels original call to European Parliament for asylum for Edward Snowden (2013)