Edward Snowden Sues Norway To Secure Safe Passage During Planned November Visit

Edward Snowden has sued Norway in a bid to guarantee that he won’t be extradited to the United States should he ever visit the Scandinavian country, the Norwegian Page is reporting.

Snowden has been awarded the prestigious Ossietzky Prize from the Norwegian branch of the international writers’ group PEN. The Ossietzky Prize is named for German free-speech advocate Carl von Ossietzky, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 and who later died from abuse he suffered in a Nazi concentration camp.

Snowden would love to go to Norway to accept the prize, but here’s the problem: Snowden is wanted in the United States for espionage and other crimes, and Norway has an extradition treaty with the United States. Snowden wants guarantees that if he goes to Norway to accept the prize, he won’t be extradited to the U.S. So far, the Norwegian government hasn’t given those guarantees.

In a statement via Business Insider, Snowden’s lawyer, Hallvard Helle, said that the suit is intended to ensure “clarification” that his client will be safe in Norway.

“The purpose is to get legally established that Norway has no right to extradite Snowden to the U.S. U.S. authorities have already asked that Snowden will be extradited to the U.S. if he was to arrive in Norway. It is a case they (the Norwegian authorities) have not wished to comment on previously, so therefore we want a legal clarification of this.”

Meanwhile, PEN — the agency that is awarding Snowden the prize — is on his side in his case against the Norwegian government. Secretary General of PEN Hege Newth Nouri told Norwegian media that it is “fundamentally important” that Snowden accept his award without fear of being extradited to the U.S.

“We do this because it is legally and fundamentally important that Snowden will not be extradited to the US when he comes to Norway.”

Depending on whom you ask, Edward Snowden is either a hero who brought attention to crimes the American government was committing against its own citizens, or a traitor whose release of classified information put untold American lives at risk.

Back in 2013, Snowden was working as an NSA subcontractor employed by Booz Allen Hamilton. Biography explains as follows.

“During his years of IT work, Snowden had noticed how far reaching the NSA’s reach was in terms of everyday surveillance. While with Booz Allen, Snowden began copying top-secret NSA documents, building a dossier on practices that he found invasive and disturbing. The documents contained vast information on the NSA’s domestic surveillance practices.”

Snowden later released those documents to various journalists, most notably Glenn Greenwald, who at the time was employed by the Guardian.

The aftermath of the leak was swift and severed. Almost immediately, Snowden became a wanted man in the U.S., and went into hiding. The federal government charged Snowden with “theft of government Property,” “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”

After weeks spent in legal limbo, Snowden eventually made his way to Moscow, where he was granted asylum. To this day, Edward Snowden and his wife live in a Moscow apartment, away from the reach of U.S. authorities.

Snowden’s information leak, and the aftermath, were both the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary CitizenFour.

Do you think the Norwegian government should guarantee Edward Snowden safe passage?

[Photo by the Guardian/Getty Images]