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article imageNorway debating Snowden asylum request

By Martin Laine     Jul 4, 2013 in Politics
Despite an initial Norwegian government refusal to consider fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden’s application for asylum, at least two Norwegian organizations are calling for a reconsideration.
The Norway edition of the news website The Local is reporting today that Justice Minister Grete Faremo is expected to respond to a request from the Norwegian PEN Society that Snowden’s case be re-opened.
“The practice uncovered (by Snowden) in the United States is clearly in conflict with the principles of a democratic constitutional state,” according a PEN statement as published inThe Local.
On Wednesday, the leader of the Young Liberals of Norway, Sveinung Rotevatn, said in a statement published in The Local, that Snowden’s request should be taken seriously.
“Norway could send a clear signal that the world community has to guard against the abuse of power and that you can speak out about surveillance without fearing for your safety,” wrote Rotevatn.
Norway was among 21 countries that received fax requests for asylum from Snowden, who is reportedly staying in a transit hotel at the Moscow airport, a kind of legal limbo that he cannot leave because the United States State Department has revoked his passport.
A Justice Ministry official said at the time that Norway would not consider the asylum request because Norwegian law does not permit such requests made from outside the country. However, Rosevatn points out that the Immigration Act allows embassies and international organizations to submit requests from abroad, and that 17 such requests were processed in 2007.
Meanwhile in Finland, a similar request from Snowden has touched off a dispute between President Sauli Niinisto and International Development Minister Heidi Hautala.
The Finnish government has refused to accept Snowden’s application since Finland also requires the applicant to be on Finnish soil. But in an interview with Yle, the national broadcasting network, Hautala suggested that Snowden might meet the requirements for being granted asylum in Finland if the request came through the proper channels.
President Niinisto said today that Hautala should keep her opinions to herself.
“We should be able to avoid offering any kind of impetuous conclusions or our own interpretations, especially if that person is a minister. We then get in the way of our own tracitional justice system,” President Niinisto said as reported by Yle.
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