Snowden slams Russia in Norway awards

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden criticised Russia's treatment of gay people and the internet as he accepted a Norwegian free speech prize.

Snowden slams Russia in Norway awards
Edward Snowden gives an address over a video link to the Bjornson Academy's prize-giving in Molde. Photo: Screen Grab

In an acceptance speech broadcast over a video link to a ceremony for the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression’s Bjornson prize on Saturday, he said that the Russian government's actions were misguided. 

“This drive that we see in the Russian government to control more and more the Internet, to control more and more what people are seeing, even parts of personal lives, deciding what is the appropriate or inappropriate way for people to express their love for one another … [is] fundamentally wrong.”

Snowden participated in the ceremony via video link from Moscow as the Norwegian government could not guarantee that he would not be extradited to the USA if he arrived in Norway.

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK released documents earlier this week that showed the the US had asked Norway to extradite Snowden should he enter Norway.

The academy awarded Snowden the prize “for his work on the important issue of the right of privacy.”

“We will honour you as the most important whistleblower of our times,” said Hege Newth Nouri, the organisation's Secretary General. 

Snowden has been in exile in Russia since June 2013, when he arrived from Hong Kong in transit to Ecuador. The US cancelled his passport while he was on the plane, making it impossible for him to reach his final destination.

Since August 2014, Snowden has been living in Russia under a three-year residence permit. 

“I honestly never expected to be free today; I expected to be in prison. I didn't expect to get awards; I expected my reputation to be ruined, because a number of incredibly powerful officials around the world were personally embarrassed because of these revelations,” Snowden said.




Snowden loses Norway appeal for no-extradition pledge

Norway's supreme court on Friday rejected a final appeal by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden to secure assurances he would not be extradited to the US should he travel to Norway to collect an award.

Snowden loses Norway appeal for no-extradition pledge
Edward Snowden speaking via satellite as he received the Bjornson prize in September. Photo: Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB scanpix
Just as was the case in an original lawsuit and the subsequent appeal to a lower court in Oslo, the supreme court said it could not evaluate an extradition request preemptively.
Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Snowden, who lives in exile in Russia, faces charges of espionage and theft of state secrets in his homeland that could land him up to 30 years in jail.
It's a further blow for the 33-year-old US citizen and his supporters at the Norwegian branch of the PEN Club who hoped he would be able to pick up the Ossietzky prize, which celebrates “outstanding efforts for freedom of expression.”
Norway was one of the countries where Snowden sought asylum after fleeing the United States in 2013, but Oslo's response was that asylum seekers had to be physically present in the country to apply.
Considered a whistleblower by some and a traitor by others, Snowden won a similar Norwegian award in 2015, but was likewise unable to collect it.
Snowden has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is also awarded in Norway, for the last three years, although without winning it.