The European Parliament has called on member states 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."
In Strasbourg on Thursday, MEPs passed a resolution by 285 votes to 281 in support of Snowden. Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE), who sponsored the resolution, described the vote as "a very clear call that can’t be just ignored by the governments."
He said it highlighted the divide between the progressive and centrist wings of the Parliament, and would increase the pressure on national governments.
Speaking on Twitter, Snowden carefully contrasted his standing with the European Parliament with that of his treatment in the US, describing the vote as a "game changer" and as "an open hand extended by friends … a chance to move forward."
Snowden has been living in Russia since being granted asylum following his leaking of top secret documents.
The US moved rapidly to criticise the resolution. "Our position has not changed," said Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council.
"Snowden is accused of leaking classified information… as such, he should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible."