Amnesty appeals for Snowden Norway asylum

Human rights organization Amnesty has joined the political fray over US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, asking the government to consider opening his asylum case despite papers being filed from abroad. The Justice Minister this week dismissed a similar appeal from the Norwegian PEN society.

Amnesty appeals for Snowden Norway asylum
An Aeroflot flight from Moscow, which was rumoured to be carrying a stow-away Snowden, lands at Gardermoen airport in Oslo on June 23rd. File photo: Jon Olav Nesvold/Scanpix

Amnesty International Norway claimed on Friday that former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden risks being sentenced to death for espionage if he is extradited to the US.

On Tuesday, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks announced that its lawyers had filed asylum requests with several European countries, including Norway. Snowden, meanwhile, has taken temporary refuge at a Moscow airport.

According to standard procedure, a person has to be on Norwegian soil or at the border to seek asylum. But as Liberal Party youth wing leader Sveinung Rotvatn told The Local on Wednesday, there are possible exceptions to the rule.

"The Immigration Act allows embassies or international organizations to request that applications are processed, even if the applicant is abroad. In 2007, about 15 persons were granted residence in Norway this way," he argued in an op-ed article.

An attempt by the Norwegian PEN society this week to get Justice Minister Grete Faremo to open Snowden's asylum case fell on deaf ears.

"The US has asked that Snowden be extradited. Prosecution in a democratic nation with a criminal justice system such as that which exists in the United States means (the case) is in principle outside the asylum law," Faremo said in a statement on Thursday.

Now Amnesty is trying its luck, saying that Snowden's decision to leak information about extensive data surveillance had uncovered a human rights violation of citizens across the world. 

"There is reason to fear that the principles of justice not be upheld by treating Snowden's case in a US court," .Amnesty International Norway's Secretary General John Peder Egenæs said on Friday. 

"He is accused of crimes that may entail capital punishment."

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