AN Icelandic member of parliament has offered the whistleblower behind the largest leak of classified information in the history of the US National Security Agency (NSA) asylum assistance.
“Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability.
“We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, […] to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.”
It is not clear whether Mr Snowden has made an asylum application to Iceland, but the former-CIA worker hinted his interest after being condemned by US politicians.
His ”predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values, The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland,” he said.
“They stood up for people over internet freedom.”
Due to an extradition treaty in force in Hong Kong with the US since 1998, the whistleblower may face prosecution after the NSA requested a criminal probe into the leaks and the US Justice Department said it was in the initial stages of a criminal investigation.
Republican politicians have already called for him to be extradited.
Mr Snowden says he revealed America’s snooping of citizens’ internet use for a “better world”.
Holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong, Mr Snowden, 29, said he had thought long and hard before publicising details of an NSA program code-named PRISM, saying he had done so because he felt the United States was building an unaccountable and secret espionage machine that spied on every American.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,” he said.
Any prosecution of Mr Snowden would likely come under the Espionage Act of 1917, the same law the US government has used against other civilians who have disclosed classified information without authorisation.
The US and Hong Kong signed their extradition treaty in 1996, a year before the former British colony was returned to China.
It allows for the exchange of criminal suspects in a formalised process that may also involve the Chinese government.
The treaty went into force in 1998 and provides that Hong Kong authorities can hold Mr Snowden for 60 days, following a US request that includes probable cause, while Washington prepares a formal extradition request.
Asked if he had a plan in place, Mr Snowden told the Guardian: “The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me.”