Shortly after the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that he was the source behind massive leaks of US and British surveillance of international communications, the US request to Norway was delivered in the form of a formal diplomatic note.
The note, dated June 27th 2013, reads: «We request that should US citizen Edward J. Snowden attempt to enter Norway through any means, the Government of Norway notify the Embassy immediately and effectuate the return of Mr. Snowden to the United States by way of denial of entry, deportation, expulsion or other lawful means».
The same day, the FBI regional office in Scandinavia sent a letter to the Norwegian Department of Justice and the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos).
In the letter, Snowden is described as a criminal fugitive, and it is emphasized that Norway and the other Scandinavian countries are contacted because the FBI has determined that there are direct flights to these countries from Moscow where Snowden was known to reside at the time.
- In Norwegian: USA ba Norge arrestere Edward Snowden
Refused asylum in Norway
– I have not seen these documents before. I am aware that they exist in some countries – for example Germany, says Snowdens legal adviser Ben Wizner to NRK.
Wizner believes that the US Government has sent the same type of documents to most European countries when Snowden emerged as the source behind the leaks.
At this point, Snowden had travelled from Hong Kong to Moscow, where he led an uncertain existence in an airport waiting area. Snowden had made it clear to journalists that he expected to become the worlds most wanted man due to his actions.
Because of this, he applied for asylum to several countries – among them Norway. The reply from the Norwegian government was swift – they refused to process the request for technical reasons – it was not delivered on Norwegian soil.
However, the Norwegian refusal to process the application does not seem to have calmed the US. They continued to pressure Norway.
Urged for custody and seizure of computer equipment
On July 4 2013 tne Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs received a new diplomatic note. This time it was a formal request for extradition of Edward Snowden with a demand for his arrest should he enter the country or land here as part of a transit flight to another destination.
«The United States urges that Snowden be kept in custody, if arrested».
It does not come as a surprise to Ben Wizner, who coordinates Edward Snowdens legal assistance, that the US has put heavy pressure on several countries. But he reacts to the American preference to how the case should be managed by the Norwegians.
– What is troubling to me is the suggestion that if Mr. Snowden showed up in one of these countries, he should be promptly extradited – before he would have a chance to raise his humanitarian rights under international law, he says.
– How do you feel that the Norwegian Government should have dealt with this?
– The only correct response from political leaders in Norway or any other free society should be to tell the US that this is a question of law and not a question of politics. And that under international law, someone who is charged with a political offense, has a right to raise a claim for asylum before the question of extradition even comes up.
The documents in NRKs possession shows how important it was for the USA to gain control over Snowden – and that included his computers:
«The Embassy requests the seizure of all articles acquired as a result of the offenses (..) This includes, but is not limited to, all computer devices, electronic storage devices and other sorts of electronic media».
As far as the NRK can ascertain, the request for extradition is still in effect. Edward Snowden has his own numbered case file at KRIPOS who were assigned the case by the Department of Justice. The police authority confirms that the case is not closed.
Norwegian authorities: Courts will decide
In a little over a week, Snowden is to be awarded the prestigious Bjørnson Prize by the Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Academy.
He receives the award for his disclosures of the threat to free speech constituted by the electronic surveillance that he has revealed.
Snowden is invited to Norway to receive the prize. But no one can give a clear answer on what will happen to him, should he land at Oslo Airport.
The Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs states that the US diplomatic notes has not yet been answered. This is confirmed by Jøran Kallmyr, State secretary in the Department of Justice.
– What Norway has done is to inform the American authorities how the Norwegian system works. If they request an extradition, the prosecuting authorities will decide if the case should be brought before the courts. And the court will decide if the terms for extradition are fulfilled, he says.
Kallmyr says that no formal decision has been made by the Department of Justice, and that the case will be reviewed should Snowden come to Norway.
- 27th of June 2013: US diplomatic note 50 to Norway requesting the return of Snowden
- 27th of June 2013: FBI notice to Scandinavian countries regarding Edward Snowden
- 27th of June 2013: Forwarding letter for US diplomatic note 50 within Norwegian government (with translation by the NRK)
- 4th of July 2013: US diplomatic note 54 to Norway with formal request for arrest and extradition
- 4th of July 2013: Forwarding letter for US diplomatic note 54 within Norwegian government (with translation by the NRK)
- 4th of July 2013: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Ministry of Justice (with translation by the NRK)