June 10, 2013
Edward Snowden, the Booz Allen Hamilton staffer with a top-secret security clearance who leaked details of NSA surveillance, is welcome to seek asylum in Iceland, according to lawmaker Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Smari McCarthy, executive director of the International Modern Media Institute, an organization dedicated to protecting whistleblowers.
Snowden is currently staying in a Hong Kong hotel. In an interview appearing in the Guardian, the 29-year old intelligence analyst said his “predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom.”
Hong Kong shares an extradition treaty with the United States. “The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me,” Snowden told Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian. “I have no idea what my future is going to be.”
“Over the last few days we at the International Modern Media Institute have watched alongside the rest of the world as the US government’s enormous encroachments on privacy and information security have been exposed in the media,” a statement issued by Jónsdóttir and McCarthy’ reads. “These exposures have verified our greatest fears about the state of global intelligence gathering, and yet again highlighted the need for strong privacy protections and government transparency.”
“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,” the statement continues. “We are currently attempting to get in touch with Mr. Snowden to confirm that this is his will and discuss the details of his asylum request … and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.”
Booz Allen released a statement stating it will work with authorities to investigate Snowden. “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, authorities in the United States are preparing to go after Snowden. “Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law,” Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said on Monday.
Republican Rep. Peter King of New York promised to extradite Snowden. “If Edward Snowden did in fact leak the NSA data as he claims, the United States government must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and begin extradition proceedings at the earliest date,” King said in a written statement. “The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament representing the Citizens’ Movement, has appeared on the Alex Jones Show. She now represents The Movement in the Icelandic Parliament. She is a poet, writer, artist, editor, and publisher, and has worked as an activist and a spokesperson for a number of groups, including Wikileaks, Saving Iceland, Friends of Tibet in Iceland, and currently the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative.