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Irish Government should provide asylum to Edward Snowden- Lynn Boylan MEP

31 October, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed this week's vote in the European Parliament in favour of granting asylum to whistle-blower Edward Snowden. She described Brian Hayes and his fellow Fine Gael MEPs' vote against the amendment as "astonishing", and called on the Irish government to commit to providing asylum to Edward Snowden, who applied for asylum in Ireland in 2013 following his release of US National Security Agency (NSA) documents.

Ms Boylan said: "My Sinn Féin colleagues and I are thrilled at the outcome of the vote on this amendment, which was proposed by members of the Greens and of our parliamentary Group, the GUE/NGL. My parliamentary Group has since 2013 also nominated Edward Snowden for the EU's annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

"The amendment calls on EU member states to drop criminal charges, if any, against Edward Snowden and 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.

"I am absolutely astonished that the four Fine Gael MEPs voted against this amendment. Do they seriously favour the persecution of this man who, at enormous personal risk, has exposed the mass surveillance by US agencies of the communications of billions of people around the world?

"In 2013 Edward Snowden, a former senior NSA analyst, exposed the extent of the NSA's domestic and international spying through programmes such as PRISM, BOUNDLESS INFORMANT and XKEYSCORE.

"For the first time, the international community became aware that the NSA was collecting information on all of us, indiscriminately and in bulk. One of the documents Snowden released revealed that in one 30-day period ending in February 2013, a single unit of the NSA had collected more than three billion pieces of communication data from US communication systems alone.

"He also provided irrefutable proof that NSA officials at the highest level had repeatedly lied to the US Congress for years about the extent of their domestic spying programs.

"Last month Snowden released documents showing that the British government's GCHQ has been carrying out a mass surveillance operation, codenamed KARMA POLICE, for the past seven years aimed at monitoring the browsing activity of 'every visible user' on the Internet. Britain was singled out in yesterday's resolution for condemnation among EU countries, together with France and the Netherlands, for carrying out mass surveillance.

"In exposing this wrongdoing, Snowden is indisputably a whistle-blower. The Irish government should acknowledge his status as a whistle-blower and international human rights defender, as affirmed by the European Parliament.

"Snowden has already been granted asylum in several Latin American countries but he has been unable to travel there through Europe for fear of being arrested and extradited to the US. He applied for asylum in Ireland in 2013 but the Irish government refused to provide an assurance of granting asylum, saying it could not process an application unless it was made from within Ireland. In the wake of this vote by the European Parliament, the Irish government should immediately provide an assurance to Snowden that he will be granted asylum, protection and safe passage should he choose to live in or travel through Ireland."

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