Nationalist French politician Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front Party, called on France to offer Snowden asylum. The extradition process is notoriously arduous in France. Consider the Roman Polanski saga: Mr. Polanski, the famous film director whose credits include “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” fled the US in 1977 after pleading guilty to statutory rape of a 13-year old girl. The French-Polish national has since been residing in France. He last made headlines when Swiss authorities briefly put him under house arrest in 2010 while traveling to accept a film award there. They considered extraditing him, however, released him soon after. He then returned to France.
Polanski’s case is a bit different from Snowden’s. Polanski is a French citizen, Snowden is a US citizen. France and the US do have an extradition treaty, and it is Polanski’s French citizenship that seems to be the only thing keeping him secure (France does not extradite its own citizens).
But Snowden may still have a chance, or at least buy some time in France. It took 25 years for US citizen Ira Einhorn’s eventual extradition in 2001, following the murder of his girlfriend.
And if he can prove imprisonment in the US would seriously compromise his health, Snowden might be set here. This route has been taken before, most recently in February 2013, when a French court denied the extradition of Michael and Linda Mastro unless US authorities promised not to imprison them, as their doctors said they suffered from health problems.