Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (Charles Platiau / AP)

The FBI repeatedly asked Scandinavian countries to detain and deport whistleblower Edward Snowden if he attempted to enter their territories, recently released official documents reveal.

In the aftermath of Snowden’s 2013 leak of documents exposing U.S. and British surveillance of digital communications, he had left Hong Kong and was applying to various countries, including Norway, for asylum. Believing that he may have been seeking asylum in Scandinavia, the FBI contacted the police forces of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland “to inform them that the US Department of Justice had charged Snowden with theft and espionage, and issued a provisional warrant for his arrest, according to documents released by Norway’s national broadcaster NRK,” The Guardian reports.

In a letter dated June 27, 2013, the FBI wrote from the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, “the US Department of Justice is prepared to immediately draft the necessary paperwork to request the extradition of Snowden to the US from whichever country he travels to from Moscow. … The FBI expresses its gratitude … for any assistance that can be provided on this important matter.”

The Guardian reports:

In a separate letter to the Norwegian foreign ministry on the same day, the US embassy in Oslo spelled out its request that the government of Norway should “effectuate the return of Mr Snowden to the United States by way of denial of entry, deportation, expulsion or other legal means”.

In a subsequent letter dated 4 July the embassy repeated its request that Snowden be arrested and extradited to the US under the 1977 extradition treaty between the two countries.

Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizna told NRK he suspects that the US sent similar documents to most of Europe and other countries at the time.

Snowden has been invited to Norway next week to receive the Bjørnson Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression, but he decided not to travel because he could not receive guarantees from the Norwegian government that he would not be extradited, the academy told NRK.

The Norwegian government said it had not replied to the requests from the FBI and the US embassy in Oslo to extradite Snowden because he had not come to Norway.

Julian Assange, the whistleblowing journalist wanted by the US for leaking thousands of diplomatic and military communications, sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London three years ago because of his fears of extradition to the US should he comply with Swedish demands to travel to Stockholm for interrogation over sexual assault allegations. Sweden has declined to issue a guarantee of his safety, arguing that Assange would be adequately protected by human rights legislation.

Informed by the Guardian about the NRK revelations, Thomas Olsson, one of Julian Assange’s legal team in Stockholm, said: “This shows the Americans are very determined to get their hands on people that they think have damaged their security or [pose] a threat to security policy, and that includes of course Julian Assange.”

A spokesperson for the Swedish police said the FBI’s request was a matter for the Prosecution Authority, which stated: “Normally the Swedish Prosecution Authority gets involved after a person is apprehended and the police need to contact a prosecutor in order to get the suspected under detention. The decision regarding extradition is taken by the Swedish government.”

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis


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