France Refuses to Reconsider Snowden’s Political Asylum Request

Edward Snowden in Moscow, 2013 (Wikimedia Commons)

Edward Snowden in Moscow, 2013 (Wikimedia Commons)

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower, expressed that he would be pleased if French President Emmanuel Macron were to reconsider his 2013 political asylum request during an online interview with France Inter, a radio station, on September 16.

In the interview, Snowden said, “I requested asylum in France in 2013 under [then-President] François Hollande. I would very much like for Emmanuel Macron to invite me. [But] this does not just concern France, it concerns Europe, the world, and the system that we have. To protect whistleblowers is not a hostile act. Welcoming someone like me is not an attack against the United States; rather, it is a friendly hand extended to an old ally who betrays one’s ideals and who needs your help.”

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet and member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nathalie Loiseau have already publicly supported the idea of offering Snowden asylum in France. Loiseau extended her support by saying that Snowden had “rendered a service to humanity” and that European countries who had denied Snowden asylum were “out of step with the values [they] promote.”

In response to Snowden’s interview with France Inter, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with French TV station CNews, “France thought that [granting Snowden asylum in 2013] was not appropriate. I do not see anything that has changed Thursday, either from a political or a legal point of view.” 

Specifically mentioning the interview with France Inter, Le Drian added, “For now, he has made the request just through the media, but I don’t see any reason to change the position [of France].”

The hesitancy to revisit Snowden’s political asylum request despite calls to do so from individual members of government in France surely stems from France’s close ties with the United States. Granting political asylum to Snowden while the United States actively seeks prosecution against him could lead to a row between the two countries.

Snowden currently faces criminal charges and a civil lawsuit, both of which were filed by federal prosecutors in the United States for his leaking of classified information from the NSA in 2013.

As of now, more than a dozen countries have refused Snowden’s requests for political asylum, forcing the whistleblower to remain in Russia, where he has lived since 2013.