Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower, thought it was too much of a risk to head for Iceland before leaking the information he had.
He explained in a Q&A on the Guardian website yesterday that he feared Icelandic authorities could be “pushed, harder, quicker before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known.”
Snowden, who uncovered the vast electronic surveillance NSA and CIA has been carrying out on citizens, in collaboration with various social media and e-mail providers, has expressed a wish to seed political asylum in Iceland.
But as a NSA employee, Snowden had to report about his foreign travel 30 days in advance. Knowing his travels would be monitored and he might be interdicted en route, he chose Hong Kong because the needed to go to a country with the “cultureal and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained.”
Kristinn Hrafnsson, spokesman of WikiLeaks, writes in Fréttablaðið today that Snowden contacted him on June 12, to ask for assistance to formally apply for asylum in Iceland, since Iceland’s ambassador in China has stated in media that asylum seekers have to be located in Iceland when they apply. Kristinn says he instantly contacted Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Minister of the Interior, and asked for a meeting. Neither of the ministers could see him right away and since then, Kristinn hasn’t managed to get in touch with them.
In an open letter to authorities and the Icelandic public, Kristinn therefor asks for assistance for Snowden, saying the Parliament has a responsibility to respond to his plea, as it approved the IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative) as a parliamentary resolution in 2010.