Edward Snowden calls on Macron to grant him asylum in France

16 September 2019, 09:56 | Updated: 16 September 2019, 14:22

Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower who leaked classified documents detailing government surveillance programmes, is calling on France to grant him asylum.

The former US National Security Agency contractor is currently living in Russia to avoid prosecution in the US.

"Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act", he told France's Inter radio on Monday, as he appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron.

"Welcoming someone like me is not an attack on the United States".

He unsuccessfully applied for asylum in France in 2013 under Mr Macron's predecessor, Francois Hollande, and has also sought asylum in several other countries.

Mr Snowden was accused of "very damaging" leaks after handing tens of thousands of top secret documents to journalists in 2013.

The first story based on those documents was published six years ago and revealed a secret court order allowing the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the data of more than 120 million phone calls between ordinary Americans.

More surveillance revelations based on top secret documents were published in the days and weeks which followed, all sourced through material which Mr Snowden had taken from the NSA while working as a contractor.

The stories were published in newspapers including The Guardian, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

He was charged in June 2013 of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property, and his passport was revoked.

Days later he flew to Moscow where Russian authorities noted that his passport had been cancelled, and he was restricted to the airport terminal for over a month. Russia later granted him the right of asylum and he is permitted to stay until at least 2020.

Mr Snowden's memoir Permanent Record, which tells his life story in detail for the first time, will be released on Tuesday in around 20 countries, including France.

The French presidency did not comment.