The European Parliament on 29 October 2015 gave status of whistle-blower and human rights defender to former contractor of NSA Edward Snowden.
A resolution in this regard was approved by the parliament by 285 votes to 281.
The non-binding resolution urged 28 member states of the European Union (EU) to drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden and grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties.
The resolution was passed in accordance with a April 2014 resolution of the Committee of Ministers on protection of whistleblowers. The resolution offers legal protection to workers who reveal illegal and unethical practices taking place at workplace.
Snowden is currently facing felony charges in USA for leaking classified information that he gathered while working as National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and at present, he is under Russia’s asylum.
Snowden was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, an NSA contractor, in 2013 after previous employment with Dell and the CIA.
On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill.
Snowden came to international attention after stories based on the material appeared in The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Further disclosures were made by other newspapers including Der Spiegel and The New York Times.
On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.
On June 23, he flew to Moscow, Russia, where he reportedly remained for over a month. Later that summer, Russian authorities granted him a one-year temporary asylum which was later extended to three years.
As of 2015, he was still living in an undisclosed location in Russia while seeking asylum elsewhere.
A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot, and a traitor.
His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy.