EU Parliament votes to drop criminal charges and grant asylum to Snowden

The 285-281 vote was nonbinding and thus "largely symbolic" but it's a hell of a symbol.

The resolution passed 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 whistleblower and international human rights defender."

Snowden called it "not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward."

A US government spokesman said that it didn't change anything.

In its legislative action on Thursday, the parliament also called for new assurances that data transfers to the US are subject to an "effective level of protection" and raised concerns about "recent laws in some member states" – including France, the UK and the Netherlands – "that extend surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies".

The vote came as a federal appeals court allowed a delay in the mothballing of a dragnet domestic surveillance program first exposed by Snowden.

The second US circuit court of appeals ruled on Thursday to permit a 180-day "orderly transition" period until the NSA would be required to cease the warrantless bulk collection of telephone metadata in the United States.

Edward Snowden praises EU parliament vote against US extradition
[Tom McCarthy/Guardian]