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Group calls on Norway to grant asylum to Edward Snowden

Activists place a placard depicting whistleblower Edward Snowden in front of the German Chancellory in Berlin, 4 July 2013.
Activists place a placard depicting whistleblower Edward Snowden in front of the German Chancellory in Berlin, 4 July 2013.

David von Blohn/NurPhoto/Rex F via AP Images

The following is a letter from Norwegian PEN to Norway's Minister of Justice:

Oslo 3 July 2013

Minister of Justice Grete Faremo
Department of Justice

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden and asylum in Norway

The recent revelations of U.S. wiretapping and spying - which extends to European Union offices in the United States - is disturbing. According to German daily Der Spiegel , EU agencies are referred to as "targets" of the U.S. security NSA. In other words, the surveillance also includes U.S. allies in the "war on terror" - to a degree that shocks the European leaders.

Several of these measures were described as top secret by the U.S. monitoring bodies. The threat of criminal prosecution against whistleblower Edward Snowden on the charge of espionage is an allegation against an individual who has used his right to free speech in order to uncover serious abuse, not worthy of a country that abides by the rule of law. By going out with this information, Edward Snowden has questioned the democratic openness of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy.

The practice uncovered in the United States is in clear conflict with the principles of a democratic constitutional state. It also clearly differs from statements made by the Norwegian government after the 22 July terror, where the answer was "more democracy, more openness." The United States has, after the 11 September 2001 attacks, accepted an expansion of its security policy that currently appears to be beyond control, as well as contrary to the values the country was originally founded on. New and advanced technology may, in alliance with the major web giants Google, Amazon, Apple etc. and in accordance with the Patriot Act, obtain monitoring data to an almost unlimited extent. The fear of surveillance has already led to significant restrictions on freedom of expression and self-censorship, both in the United States and numerous other countries. Only a new and more open investigation can prevent this process from accelerating.

Edward Snowden has reason to fear the treatment the U.S. will provide him with, should he be extradited. Norwegian PEN therefore supports his asylum application to Norway, based on the facts, as these are currently known to the Norwegian public.

Norwegian PEN is one of the few organizations that has the right to propose an entry / asylum for an individual to the Norwegian immigration authorities. However, this right applies only to writers (writers, translators, journalists, etc.) who wish to stay in a Norwegian City of Asylum for persecuted writers.

Edward Snowden does unfortunately not fall into that category. He is a whistleblower. Norwegian PEN generally objects to the persecution of whistleblowers. An important part of speech is precisely the freedom to speak out about abuse, particularly when performed by authority officials or institutions.

On this basis, Norwegian PEN sends the following request to the Norwegian authorities:

With reference to Article 14 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which Norway has acceded, the first paragraph stating that "everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries," we ask Minister of Justice Grete Faremo to instruct the immigration authorities to reconsider Edward Snowden's asylum application, in line with the treatment they previously granted the Afghan interpreters who had worked for the Norwegian forces in Afghanistan.


William Nygaard / s Elisabeth Eide/s Carl Morten Iversen
President Vice-President Secretary General

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide
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