French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira would "absolutely not be surprised" if whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received asylum in France.
"It would be a symbolic gesture," Taubira told French news channel BFMTV on Thursday, adding that it would not be her decision to offer asylum, but that of the French Prime Minister and President.
Taubira's statement came in response to a question about recent revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the past three French presidents, which she called an "unspeakable practice."
Snowden currently lives in political asylum in Russia, awaiting an offer of permanent refuge from several other countries, including France. He faces espionage charges in the U.S.
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Assange, who is wanted in Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past three years. He has said he fears being extradited to the U.S. if arrested by Swedish authorities.
As the Intercept reported on Thursday, Taubira's comments echo those of the leftist French newspaper Libération, whose editor Laurent Joffrin wrote that France would send "a clear and useful message to Washington, by granting this bold whistleblower [Snowden] the asylum to which he is entitled."
The editorial, entitled "A Single Gesture," calls for France to offer asylum to the "single, courageous man, who has been chased without respite for three years: Edward Snowden, stalked and threatened with life in prison for having told the truth."