ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La France doit offrir le droit d’asile à Snowden et Assange
by Bruno Odent
Translated Saturday 8 August 2015, by
A basic gesture of solidarity is indispensable in respect of the two whistleblowers threatened with imprisonment and trapped in Moscow and the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Paris should officially grant asylum to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. That would be a fitting response for a country which prides itself on its free thinkers and freedom of information. Paris can no longer argue of a lack of proof over the magnitude of Uncle Sam’s spying activities, as it did in the summer of 2013 during one of the less glorious episodes in the Hexagon’s diplomatic history: On his return from Moscow, Bolivian president, Evo Morales, had to reroute after France refused to allow him to fly over its airspace following a rumour that whistleblower Edward Snowden was on the presidential plane.
In fact, today, no one should have more interest than the French government in countering the injustice affecting the young system administrator, stuck in the Russian capital for three years. Similarly, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is under “house arrest” in the Ecuadorian embassy, London. Such an offer of asylum would be the only way for France to demonstrate a determination - an unwavering and concrete commitment - to protecting fundamental freedoms. This response would not only be a matter of basic morality, it would also be the only way to force Washington to truly review its unbridled surveillance methods - methods against which many US citizens are fighting. Being the initial targets of these operations, they are fighting for their rights. They are our true special allies across the Atlantic.
The fate of soldier Manning shows the magnitude of the threat facing Snowden and Assange. Condemned to 35 years in prison in 2013, he languishes in a jail, forgotten, after having had the courage to disseminate thousands of documents on Wikileaks showing how the US army knowingly trampled over human rights in Iraq. Paris, which once opposed the outbreak of that war, would be well inspired to also lead a campaign for his release.