Norwegian court rejects Snowden petition for safe passage

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The Norwegian Supreme Court Friday rejected an appeal by US whistleblower Edward Snowden to secure assurances he would not be extradited to the United States should he visit Norway.

The Supreme Court upheld two lower court rulings stating it could not rule on the petition from the former US government contractor and whistleblower, as there is no formal extradition request and Snowden is not in Norway.

“We are very disappointed and really regret it,” Norwegian PEN president William Nygaard told dpa about the Supreme Court ruling.

PEN’s attorneys were to study the ruling in more detail, he said.

Snowden, 33, has asylum in Russia. He was in March awarded the 2016 Ossietzky Prize from Norway’s PEN Centre for outstanding efforts for freedom of expression.

State attorney Christian Reusch welcomed Friday’s ruling, he told news agency NTB.

The Norwegian branch of writers’ group PEN filed the petition in April to secure his safe passage to an awards ceremony in Oslo.

Snowden is wanted by the US government on espionage charges for exposing extensive telephone and internet data-collection programmes used by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

PEN postponed the November 18 award ceremony in Oslo hoping Snowden could accept the prize in June 2017, pending the legal outcome. Snowden addressed last week’s conference via video link.

Last month, PEN Norway postponed an award ceremony planned for Friday until June amid legal efforts to secure assurances he would not be extradited to the US should he visit Norway.

Nygaard said Snowden would instead likely receive the award in Russia, and he said PEN would “do our utmost to highlight the role of whistleblowers.”

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 unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo 80 years ago.