Snowden seeks asylum in Norway

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Norwegian government officials confirmed on Tuesday that Edward Snowden, the young American who’s on the run from US authorities for divulging details of their secret and controversial surveillance operations, has sought asylum in Norway. His chances of getting it are slim to none.

Norway is one of 18 countries where Snowden is seeking refuge from US authorities who want to jail him for spreading confidential documents and threatening national security. The 30-year-old man, viewed as both a whistle-blower and a traitor, reportedly remains in a transit area of the Moscow airport, unable to board an aircraft out of Russia because the US has revoked his US passport.

Rejection likely
Pål Lønseth, state secretary in Norway’s justice ministry for the Labour Party, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday that Norway’s embassy in Moscow had received an asylum application from Snowden. According to Norwegian law, however, refugees need to be physically present in Norway to seek asylum on their own.

“Normal procedures call for the asylum application of Edward Snowden to be rejected because Snowden was in Russia when he applied,” Lønseth told NRK.

Reluctant to challenge Washington
Norway is a strong ally of the US and its Labour-led government already has shown that it’s reluctant to challenge Washington in the Snowden case. It has accepted the US’ explanation for its surveillance of ordinary citizens that would otherwise seem to violate rights to privacy, and ignored calls from some local attorneys and other politicians to protest the US’ treatment of Snowden.

Andreas C Halse of the Socialist Left (SV) party’s youth group told NRK that Snowden should be granted asylum in Norway, and that Norway should have offered it even before Snowden applied. “He’s leaked information that addresses the privacy and rights of citizens all over the world in the fight against ever more surveillance by the authorities,” Halse told NRK. By granting him asylum, Norway could show which side of the issue it supports, Halse said.

Snowden reportedly has also sought asylum in Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela in addition to the application he filed with Russian authorities after landing in Moscow from Hong Kong.

newsinenglish.no staff