US whistleblower Snowden files petition to accept Norwegian prize

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has filed a petition in Norway to ensure he can visit the country to accept an award without fear of extradition to the United States, a Norwegian law firm said Thursday.

Snowden wants to visit Oslo in November to accept the 2016 Ossietzky Prize from Norway's PEN Centre for outstanding efforts for freedom of expression.

The law firm Advokatfirmaet Schjodt said it had filed its petition with a court in Oslo "in order to allow Snowden to travel to Norway without fear of extradition to the US, where he faces decades of imprisonment under the 'Espionage Act.'"

Snowden, who currently has asylum in Russia, is wanted by the US government on espionage charges for exposing extensive telephone and internet data collection programmes used by the National Security Agency (NSA).

"Our aim is to legally establish that Snowden cannot be extradited to the US," Halvard Helle, a partner at the law firm, told dpa.

"The background is that the crimes he is charged with are political, and that rules out extradition under Norwegian extradition law and international law," he added.

Helle said the firm represented Snowden and Norwegian PEN, and that the Snowden case was "unique."

Hege Newth Nouri, secretary general of Norwegian PEN, told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the group fully supported Snowden because "his cause is so important, and due to his role as whistleblower."

The Norwegian Justice Ministry said in a written statement to dpa that it did not wish to comment on the matter before the court had considered it.

Norwegian PEN in March picked Snowden for the prize because it wanted "to pay respect to the unique role he has undertaken as a whistleblower" and his personal courage.
The ceremony is set for November 18 at Oslo University, and the award consists of a graphic print and a cash sum of 10,000 kroner (1,230 dollars).
The Ossietzky Prize is named after German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who won the 1936 Nobel Peace Prize for disclosing Germany's rearmament programmes that violated the Treaty of Versailles. He was jailed for treason and was unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo 80 years ago.
Last year, Snowden won another Norwegian freedom of speech award, the Bjornson Prize. He addressed that award ceremony via video.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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