'Snowden could come to Norway to collect prize'

The Local Norway
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'Snowden could come to Norway to collect prize'
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Photo: Guardian

The Norwegian academy which on Tuesday awarded Edward Snowden its “freedom of expression” prize is lobbying its government government to allow him to come to Norway to collect the prize, meaning he may be able to leave Russia for the first time since claiming asylum in 2013.


Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression on Monday sent a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Justice Minister Anders Anundsen asking them to grant assurances to the NSA whistleblower that he would not be extradited to the US, where he is accused of spying, if he entered Norwegian territory. 
“We have asked to have a meeting with them, so that we can look together constructively at how we can achieve this,” the academy’s Kristenn Einarson told Norway’s NRK channel. 
Snorre Valen and Bård Vegar Solhjell, from Norway’s Socialist Left Party, called on their colleagues in parliament to find a way for Snowden to enter .
“I would challenge all members of parliament, from all parties, to take a stand,” Solhjell, who nominated Snowden last for the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said. 
Schjødt, one of Norway’s most respected law firms, has advised the academy that Norway would have no right to extradite Snowden under existing laws. 
“We believe that the offence Snowden is charged with is directed at the US government's interests. It must therefore be regarded as a political offence in the legal sense, which would therefore not allow Norway to extradite him,” Emanuel Feinberg, a lawyer at the firm told NRK. 
The academy said the 31-year old fugitive had won the Bjørnson Prize -- named after a Norwegian Nobel literature laureate -- "for his work protecting privacy and for shining a critical light on US surveillance of its citizens and others."
Snowden, a former contractor working for the US National Security Agency, has lived in exile in Russia since 2013 after revealing mass spying programmes by the United States and its allies.
The US has annulled Snowden’s but Norway’s Immigration Act states that the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can waive the requirement to have a passport to enter the country in special cases.
Norway's justice ministry said it was up to immigration authorities, who indicated they would consider any entry request when and if they received one.
However Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Oslo’s Peace Research Institute, dismissed the idea that a Norwegian government would provide Snowden safe haven. 
“I think the possibility that Snowden come to Norway to receive an award in 2015 is pretty close to zero,” he said. “It is almost impossible that a Norwegian government would clear the way for Snowden, who is accused of espionage and consistently referred to as a traitor by one Norway's closest allies, to get an entry to Norway.” 
Norway shares a land border with Russia, which would allow Snowden to visit the country without entering a third country's airspace. 


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