Calls in France to offer asylum, citizenship, to Snowden and Assange

Assange and SnowdenLeaders from all sides of the French political spectrum urged the French government on Thursday to offer political asylum, and even French citizenship, to the American defector Edward Snowden and to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The calls were made in response to news earlier this week that the United States National Security Agency spied on the personal communications of three French presidents from the 1990s to at least 2012. The files were published on Tuesday by the international whistleblower website WikiLeaks. They consist of what the website described as “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents”, which detail NSA spying operations against the French presidency, as well as espionage directed at several French government ministers and at France’s ambassador to the US. As intelNews predicted on Wednesday, the French government’s response to the revelations has been relatively muted. But many French politicians, including one minister in the government of French President Francois Hollande, called for Paris to extend offers of political asylum, and even French citizenship, to Assange and Snowden.

The initial call was issued by Laurent Joffrin, the influential managing editor of Libération, the Paris-based newspaper that partnered with WikiLeaks to release the NSA documents earlier this week. In a leading editorial published in the paper on Thursday, Joffrin said that French protests against NSA spying “have no more effect than scolding a rude toddler”, and added that by offering asylum to Snowden, France would “stand up [to America] and send a clear and effective message to Washington”.

Shortly after Joffrin’s editorial, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, president of the centrist Union of Democrats and Independents in the French Parliament, said that France should have given Snowden political asylum back in 2013, when he originally requested it. Lagarde was quoted in the French press as saying that “the French nation has already been dishonored by refusing to accept Edward Snowden’s request for political asylum when he asked for it in 2013”. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leftist member of the European Parliament, agreed with Lagarde, adding that Assange and Snowden must not only receive political asylum in France, but also be given “the French nationality”.

On Thursday afternoon, Jean-Pierre Mignard, a close friend and longtime political advisor to President Hollande, said that “given the service they have rendered to the cause of human freedom, France could accommodate a request for asylum from Assange and Snowden, should they request it”. Mignard added that “French law allows the Republic to grant asylum to any foreign subject who faces persecution for taking action in favor of human freedom”.

When asked by BFM TV, France’s most popular news channel, whether political asylum could be extended to Snowden and Assange, France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said that she was “absolutely shocked by the idea”, because such a course of action would drive a powerful wedge between France and the US, two countries with deep historical ties. But she added that such a move would constitute a strong “symbolic gesture” against espionage, and thus remained on the table as a possible policy maneuver to be adopted by the government of France.

Late on Thursday, however, France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls indicated that any discussion of an offer of asylum to Assange and Snowden by the government of France was premature. Speaking at a hastily organized press conference to discuss the NSA espionage revelations during an official visit to Colombia, Valls told reporters that the question of offering asylum to the two men “did not arise” during internal government talks. “And in any case”, said Valls, such an initiative “would not address the issue at hand”, namely American espionage against the French presidency. France’s goal is to extract guarantees from Washington that all espionage against French officials would stop, noted the French prime minister. If France offered asylum to Assange and Snowden, American espionage against French targets would likely reach unprecedented levels, he added.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 26 June 2015 | Permalink:

4 Responses to Calls in France to offer asylum, citizenship, to Snowden and Assange

  1. I expect those many calling for asylum are overlooking a perfectly plausible psychological ploy (psyop) meant to reinforce the perception of European allies subservience to Washington. For whatever reasons, Hollande and associates simply don’t have the necessary gumption to do anything other than make noise and the people at Langley know that. In any case, there is no big revelation here, why would Hollande expect his communications would be any more privileged than those of Merkel? Why would his reaction be any more robust than the helplessness demonstrated by Germany? In a sense this is old news sensationalized, typical of WikiLeaks.

    The real litmus test of WikiLeaks recent revelations will be whether the so-called ‘Saudi Cables’ detail the David Petraeus-Prince Bandar Sultan deliberately assisting al-Qaida to undermine Assad, an event we know from a few pages of a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment that recently came into the public domain – (I’ll send along a copy)

  2. TFH says:

    Mr. West, I think the difference lies in the feeling of powerlessness. Germany can’t spy on Obamas phone calls and evedently can’t prevent the oposite either, neither can France supposedly (my bet is that Japan can do whatever it likes as long as there are electronics involved).
    USA intel service got caught with their pants down in a the most compromising situation af last few hundred years, the experience it might have had is probably not far from the experience a sexual deviant would have being caught spying for own gratification.

  3. Trip Ideas says:

    Everything is a play on words. Here it describes the United States spying “against” France. This is wholly untrue. They may be spying “at” France, though they spy on every country in the world ally or hostile. It “is” one of the many reasons the United States remains the world’s superpower. Many articles have surfaced the past few days on this subject claiming how “surprised” and “offended” France is. I doubt it. It is common knowledge and practice for the spy agencies to spy on each other at every level — it “is” the status quo!

    Snowden should receive the death penalty as it is a capital crime he committed against the People of the United States. That isn’t even debatable. It sickens me whenever I hear another ungrateful American talk about him being a hero. How safe would the United States be if was okay for any information or security analysts working at the Intelligence Agencies to decide for themselves what to release to the mainstream public? The United States is for the most part one of the safest countries in the world in which to live free of terrorism. This is only due to the rigorous security measures and yes “spying” that we conduct. Yet people complain about their rights being trampled on…Legends of their own minds! I will let you in on a little secret. Nobody cares about you or anything you do; unless you are part of a terrorist cell or supporting terrorism against the United States. Period. Any idea contrary to this is nothing but unfound paranoia. Keep America safe by not giving Snowden any support. He is indisputably irrefutably an enemy not a hero.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Trip. You seem totally rational, extremely knowledgeable, and not at all scared to death of “terror.” [I am more likely to be struck by lightning multiple times than end up on the receiving end of a terror attack.]

    In the US we have a “constitution” that is supposed to “limit the legal powers” of the government. Snowden released a ton of documents on, as you said, ‘open secrets’ which ‘expose’ the intelligence community for “violating” the limits set out by the “constitution.” That you wish death upon someone for giving citations for open secrets resembles pretty closely the perspective of a ‘terrorist’, in my eyes. Especially when you say, “That isn’t even debatable.”

    Thank god sick power mad psychotics like you run things or else I wouldn’t be safe!

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