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In the two years since Edward Snowden leaked the US's surveillance secrets, he has applied for asylum in 27 countries.
Thus far, only Russia has agreed to grant him year-to-year asylum.
So, what exactly is asylum, and who can get it?
Well, people have been seeking refuge from persecution for a long time.
Historically, those accused of crimes would hide in churches, where one could not be harmed without facing the wrath of God.
In 511 AD, this "right to asylum" for murderers, adulterers, and thieves was codified in French law.
This is one of the reasons that churches are referred to as "sanctuaries".
However, the modern form of asylum came about in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
Following World War II, a large number of refugees swarmed through Europe, and a criteria for asylum seekers had to be established.
Thus, a person can seek asylum if they are quote "unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear
of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion."
As in Snowden's case, most asylum is granted within the borders of a host country.
However, any territory owned by a host country can be used as well.
Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, is another famous asylum seeker. He is currently being housed in Ecuador's embassy in London.
If he leaves the embassy he risks extradition to Sweden.
If you are granted asylum, you are able to live as a legal immigrant in that country.
You cannot be extradited back to your country of origin, as long as you have asylum status.
In the US, after a year, you can apply for a green card, and later, citizenship.
So, how do you get it? Well, essentially you have to prove to an asylum country that you fit the profile of a refugee.  
Also, that the government of your home country is intent on persecuting you, or is unable to stop your persecution by others.
However, the United States for example,
is only willing to accept a certain number of refugees from each part of the world,
with different ceilings per region.
In July of 2013, Russia granted Snowden asylum.
This allowed him not only to live and work in Moscow, but also to avoid answering the charges against him.
However, the move caused even more tension in the already tumultuous relationship between the United States and Russia.
The Obama administration described the move as "extremely disappointing",
and even threatened to scale back diplomatic relations.
In many cases, asylum can cause significant controversy between countries.
When one country harbors people who may have committed political or social crimes in another,
it highlights the ideological differences between those countries.
Luckily, the UN Refugee Convention has made it clear that protecting the defenseless from persecution is more important than political stability.
Although asylum can be granted in many cases, there are also times when countries assist one another to arrest fugitives.
To learn about how this works, check out our video here.
There is no inherent obligation to cooperate when it comes to criminal deportation.
As a result, a special process, know as extradition,
is an agreement between countries to transfer suspects to wherever they are intended to be prosecuted.
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庇護知多少 (What Is Asylum And How Does It Work?)

13150 分類 收藏
劉宜佳 發佈於 2016 年 3 月 28 日    劉宜佳 翻譯    Kristi Yang 審核
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