by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Chief Visionary Founder & Owner
July 6, 2013 (TSR) – I reported on July 2 the possibility for Snowden to be helped in coming to Norway for protection. The application was rejected on formal grounds, because it is not made as required by Norwegian law. In order to assess the need for asylum, the applicant must apply from Norway or reside on a Norwegian border when seeking.
However, we found a loophole on the Norwegian Refugee Law that gives provision for international organisations to give Snowden free pass thereby giving the a second chance for the Norwegian Directorate for Immigration (UDI) re-evaluate his asylum application. Snowden would have been an immediate applicant.
When the rejection came, the Norwegian branch of PEN, a chapter of the world’s largest free expression organization, international PEN, stepped up to use its right of initiative, use the loophole and ask UDI to help Snowden.
The Norwegian PEN is one of the few organizations in the country that have the right to propose an entry / asylum to Refugee Department for Resettlement in UDI. Norwegian PEN gave its weight and support for Snowden’s asylum application to Norway, based on the facts and the obvious political persecution that awaits him, which is also known to the Norwegian public.
When I spoke to the Secretary general Carl Morten Iversen on Tuesday night, I was already forewarned that there may be a snag and that he would need to have a meeting with the Norwegian chapter of Amnesty International, whom I also called, and the attorneys.
Unfortunately, the legal counsel affirmed the technical problem which is on the organisation’s mission: The right applies only to persecuted writers (writers, translators, journalists, etc.) who are usually given refugee status in Norwegian soil due to inability to express their freedom of speech.
Since Edward Snowden does not fall in that category because he is a whistleblower.
Norwegian PEN generally takes distance from the persecution of whistleblowers but was willing to give an exception to Snowden. An important part of speech is precisely the freedom to speak out about abuse, particularly when performed by such officials or institutions, which Snowden represents.
But PEN could not move forward based on the legalities.
Because of this technical snag, the Norwegian PEN, who still wanted to help Snowden, followed it up with a request to the Norwegian authorities via a letter to the Justice Minister, Grete Faremo:
“With reference to Article 14 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which Norway has acceded, where in the first paragraph states that “everyone has the right of other countries to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution,” we ask Justice Minister Grete Faremo instruct UDI to consider Edward Snowden asylum application again, in line with the treatment they at one time gave the Afghan interpreters who had worked for the Norwegian forces in Afghanistan”.
When the Justice Department received the request from Norwegian PEN on Wednesday to bring Snowden to Norway, and compared his situation to the situation of the interpreters for the Norwegian forces in Afghanistan who have been granted asylum in Norway, she sent the case straight to the UDI.
Immigration responded on Thursday that Snowden is not covered by the free refugee pass and is thus not an applicant whom Norwegian PEN can promote a request to be considered for transfer.
“Snowden is wanted to be extradited by the United States in connection with the prosecution. Prosecution in democratic states with a criminal justice system such as in the United States are in principle outside the asylum law”, says Justice Minister Grete Faremo in an official statement.
“It is not necessary to use the scheme for resettlement to assess protection in this case”, added Faremo.
But Norwegian PEN asserts that the Attorney General has misunderstood.
“We did not use our right of initiative concerning persecuted writers. We chose instead to ask the Attorney General Faremo to find a political solution to the Snowden situation”, PEN’s Secretary General Carl Morten Iversen writes in a statement yesterday afternoon.
“Faremo has ignored the request, and have instead chosen to send it over to Immigration “for consideration and response,” knowing that the request will be flatly rejected”, writes Iversen.
Experts in refugee law said to NRK Wednesday that it was unlikely that Snowden would be granted asylum in Norway.
But the real consensus is that the granting of asylum to Snowden would be very politically sensitive and could rise to major problems for Norway’s relations with the United States.
The United States is one of Norway’s principal trading partners and has strong bilateral ties.
The growth of Norway’s petroleum sector has contributed significantly to its economic vitality. Many U.S. companies participate actively in the petroleum sector. U.S. exports to Norway include aircraft, machinery, optic and medical instruments, and inorganic chemicals. U.S. imports from Norway include mineral fuel and oil, machinery, nickel and nickel products, and Atlantic salmon. Reported U.S. direct investment in Norway is led by the mining and manufacturing sectors. Software and IT services, coal, oil and natural gas, and metals, account for the top three sectors in Norway’s reported direct investment in the United States.
Norway and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Arctic Council, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Norway also is an observer to the Organization of American States. Norway is a full member of NATO.
Norway and the United States work closely together on a wide range of issues. Among the many bilateral issues on which they cooperate and collaborate are: building “democracy” in Afghanistan and globally; the Arctic and Polar areas; renewable energy sources and “preserving” the environment, “fighting” terrorism, “promoting” a pluralist society and combating racism, strengthening the NATO alliance; ensuring nuclear security; energy; health; global development; and global “peace” initiatives.
The Kingdom of Norway is the only Scandinavian nation on the list that Snowden applied for asylum.
This report is part of the Edward Snowden, the Whistleblower Saga series.
Snowden Saga III: Forthcoming
Snowden Saga IV: Forthcoming
Snowden Saga VI:
Snowden Saga VII: