The European Parliament, in a narrow vote, called on member states to grant asylum to U.S. fugitive and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is living in exile in Moscow.
The body voted 285-to-281 on Thursday to approve the resolution urging European Union countries to drop all criminal charges against the hacker and protect him as an “international human rights defender.”
Snowden has been on the lam for two years after leaking confidential U.S. government files on secret surveillance programs.
The former CIA consultant called Thursday’s vote “extraordinary” and a “game-changer” in posts to his Twitter account.
This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward. pic.twitter.com/fBs5H32wyD— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 29, 2015
U.S. officials said Snowden is still a wanted man. “Our position has not changed,” National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price said to the Guardian in an email.
“Mr. Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and faces felony charges here in the United States. As such, he should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible.”
The 32-year-old North Carolina native has been charged with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property.