Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (Charles Platiau / AP)

The Council of Europe declared its support of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden on Tuesday and called on the European Union to offer whistleblowers asylum from “retaliation in their home countries.”

From The Intercept:

The call for Snowden to be allowed a “public interest defense” — something not available to whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, as Snowden has been — was part of a resolution to improve international protections for whistleblowers passed overwhelmingly by the 47-nation council’s parliamentary assembly at its meeting in Strasbourg, France.

After the vote, Snowden spoke to the assembly by video from Moscow, where he has temporary asylum. “It would be committing a crime by discussing your defense,” Snowden said of his current legal prospects if he returned to the U.S.

“I think it’s incredibly strong,” he said of the council’s resolution. “It’s a major step forward. … If you can’t mount a full and effective defense — make the case that you are revealing information in the public interest — you can’t have a fair trial.”

U.S. government officials have repeatedly said that Snowden should return home to face the consequences of his actions. Snowden should “come back, be sent back, and he should have his day in court,” said National Security Advisor Susan Rice on “60 Minutes” in December 2013.

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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