A petition has gathered more than 150,000 signatures as of Friday urging President Francois Hollande to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in France after his asylum status in Russia expires in July.
“We intellectuals, philosophers, researchers, essayists, journalists, and above all engaged citizens ask Francois Hollande … to welcome [Snowden], without delay, as a political refugee in France, the country of human rights and freedom of the press,” said the petition, which was published in French news magazine L’Express on June 3.
“France … has a special obligation to Edward Snowden as its constitution states that ‘every man persecuted for his action in favor of liberty has the right of asylum on the territory of the republic,” the petition said.
Snowden’s leaks, which began on June 5, 2013, revealed that the U.S. government has been surreptitiously tracking the digital lives of people around the world. Details of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance techniques have shocked the international community and strained ties between Washington and some of its closest allies.