Iceland received informal approach over Snowden seeking asylum

REYKJAVIK Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:44am EDT

A bus passes by a poster of Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), displayed by his supporters at Hong Kong's financial Central district during the midnight hours of June 18, 2013, while Snowden is engaged in a live chat online believed to be in Hong Kong. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

A bus passes by a poster of Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), displayed by his supporters at Hong Kong's financial Central district during the midnight hours of June 18, 2013, while Snowden is engaged in a live chat online believed to be in Hong Kong.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland has received an informal approach from an intermediary who says Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed the U.S. government's secret surveillance programs, wants to seek asylum there.

Snowden, the former employee of contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who worked in an NSA facility in Hawaii, made world headlines after providing details of the program to the Guardian and Washington Post and then fleeing to Hong Kong.

In a column in Icelandic daily Frettabladid, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson wrote that a middleman had approached him on behalf of Snowden.

"On 12 June, I received a message from Edward Snowden where he asked me to notify the Icelandic government that he wanted to seek asylum in Iceland," Hrafnsson, who is also an investigative journalist in Iceland, told Reuters.

The Icelandic government, which has refused to say whether they would grant asylum to Snowden, confirmed it had received the message from Hrafnsson.

"Kristinn Hrafnsson has contacted two ministries in an informal way but not the ministers. There has been no formal approach in this matter," a government spokesman said.

Hrafnsson declined to name the go-between to Reuters.

Snowden has mentioned Iceland as a possible refuge.

Iceland has a reputation for promoting Internet freedoms, but Snowden has said did not travel there immediately from the United States as he feared the country of only 320,000 could be pressured by Washington.

"Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current U.S. administration," Snowden said in an online forum in the Guardian on Monday.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sex crimes, visited Iceland several times in the run-up to some of the website's major releases. Assange denies any wrongdoing.

WikiLeaks won a ruling this year in Iceland's Supreme Court against MasterCard's local partner. The court upheld a lower court's ruling that the payment card firm had illegally ended its contract with the website. Wikileaks' funding had been squeezed without the ability to accept card payments.

(Reporting by Robert Robertson; Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Patrick Lannin and Alison Williams)

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Comments (2)
mjp1958 wrote:
Wherever Mr. Snowden goes, arrest him and return him to the US so he can be put in jail for life. He’s a traitor to the USA.

Jun 18, 2013 1:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SKYDRIFTER wrote:
The jury is still out on what “damage” Snowden has caused. At least for the moment, Snowden’s worst crime seems to be his warning to Americans that the Fourth Amendment is “officially” toast. However unpopular he might be with the DOJ, he does have a certain magnitude of the aura of Paul Revere – “…three if by Internet;”.

Does the NSA now need to change it’s ‘official’ name to “National Surveillance Agency?” They may as well.

Granted, in the USA, anyone can be charged with a crime for ordinary actions. Few remember that Martha Stewart was charged with perjury, for having entered a “not guilty” plea. She wasn’t an isolated case.

If Snowden lands up in a U.S. (mainland) jail, his trial would be more dangerous than his assertions. Being a ‘pure’ civilian, there would only be a certain amount of ‘secrecy’ allowed. The DOJ would be essentially certifying Snowden’s claims – and probably much more. The trial would, no doubt, be a test of “secret courts” also being a “new” American reality. What are the odds?

Prior to Snowden’s ‘revelation,’ it’s doubtful that many Americans believed that they were significantly protected from private or government electronic “extreme snooping.”

Just the case of the sacking of Gen. Petraeus demonstrated that not even the head of the CIA was exempt from getting hacked by the ‘feds.’

But, how many Americans took note of what his sacking represented to the average American? Darned E-mail, anyway!

Snowden’s best chance of getting asylum lies in his computer expertise. Good luck on verifying that he’s as ‘good’ as he was initially made out to be.

If Snowden is factually some kind of ‘ultimate hacker;’ Obama would do well to pardon him; then tap his expertise.

By now, Snowden should be running out of money. Supposedly, the Chinese government won’t have anything to do with him.

Jun 18, 2013 2:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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