A petition has gathered more than 150,000 signatures as of Friday urging President Francois Hollande to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in France after his asylum status in Russia expires in July.
“We intellectuals, philosophers, researchers, essayists, journalists, and above all engaged citizens ask Francois Hollande … to welcome [Snowden], without delay, as a political refugee in France, the country of human rights and freedom of the press,” said the petition, which was published in French news magazine L’Express on June 3.
“France … has a special obligation to Edward Snowden as its constitution states that ‘every man persecuted for his action in favor of liberty has the right of asylum on the territory of the republic,” the petition said.
Snowden’s leaks, which began on June 5, 2013, revealed that the U.S. government has been surreptitiously tracking the digital lives of people around the world. Details of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance techniques have shocked the international community and strained ties between Washington and some of its closest allies.
On Thursday, French media reported that two senators had lodged a proposal to make Snowden, a U.S. fugitive, an honorary French citizen.
The two centrist French politicians, Catherine Morin-Desailly and Chantal Jouanno, said the president and Prime Minister Manuel Valls “had a responsibility” to grant asylum to the former NSA contractor.
The politicians’ proposal said Snowden had launched a “healthy and urgent reflection on the legitimacy of phone tapping.”
“The revelations around Edward Snowden have shown that the massive data collection by the NSA on citizens around the world went beyond the framework of the fight against terrorism or other geopolitical risks,” the proposal said, according to the Local, an independent European news website.