23rd Mar 2018

EU countries reject Snowden asylum

  • US secretary of state John Kerry and Sikorski in Washington in June (Photo:

Six EU countries have said No to asylum for US leaker Edward Snowden, citing technicalities.

Austria, Finland, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain all said on Tuesday (2 July) that the fugitive, who is currently in Moscow, could only apply for refuge if he was on their territory.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski noted on Twitter that: "An application came in which does not meet the formal requirements for granting asylum. But even if it did I wouldn't give a positive recommendation."

He said in a second tweet: "Because Poland and the US are allies."

He then added: "But we will be seeking clarifications about NSA [the US' National Security Agency] activities on Poland and the EU."

For his part, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said the German embassy in Moscow received an asylum request by fax on Sunday.

He told media it "will be handed over without delay to the competent German authorities" and treated "according to the law."

Germany also requires applicants to file on its territory. People can get special treatment on "humanitarian" grounds or if they constitute a "political interest" for Germany.

Some left-wing German politicians, including the Socialist head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, have voiced sympathy for Snowden's request.

But the humanitarian exemption, in any case, is unlikely to apply because Germany recognises the US as a democratic and law abiding country.

Snowden says he also applied to France and Italy.

But French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that French authorities had not received his request.

Speaking at an event in Paris alongside Lithuanian head of state Dalia Grybauskaite, he added: "Europe should have a co-ordinated, common position on the requirements which we have formulated and the explanations we have asked for."

An official in the Italian foreign ministry told AFP it is considering Snowden's request.

But he noted that it "contains anomalies" because it was also faxed to the Italian embassy in Moscow, while Italian law says you have to go to an embassy in person or be in Italy.

With Snowden claiming he risks the death penalty if he returns to the US, Bolivia and Venezuela are the only countries so far to drop hints of a positive decision.

Brazil, Ecuador, India and Norway also said No on Tuesday.

Snowden himself ruled out Russia after Moscow said it would only do it if he promised not to publish any more US secrets.

China, Cuba, Iceland and Nicaragua have said nothing so far.

Meanwhile back in Paris, Grybauskaite voiced hope the Snowden affair will blow over without disrupting plans for an EU-US free trade treaty.

"[The trade talks] might take even two or more years. So all these issues should not have a direct impact," she said.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  2. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  3. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  4. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  5. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  6. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  7. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica
  8. Russian diplomats risk EU expulsions over UK attack