US whistleblower must be in Iceland to seek asylum
REYKJAVIK, Iceland - Iceland said on Monday, June 10, that US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is currently holed up in a Hong Kong hotel, would have to travel to the country to be able to submit an asylum application.
The 29-year-old ex-CIA worker who leaked details of a massive secret Internet surveillance program, has expressed an interest in seeking asylum in Iceland, saying it was a country that stood up for Internet freedoms.
But the head of Iceland's Directorate of Immigration said no application had been received.
"And the rule is you have to be in Iceland and apply in person," Kristin Volundardottir told daily Morgunbladid.
The International Modern Media Institute, an Icelandic foundation working towards securing free speech, said on Sunday it was trying to get in touch with Snowden.
"Our next step will be to assess the security implications of asylum, as it is possible that Iceland may not be the best location, depending on various questions regarding the legal framework," it said in a statement.
Snowden said in an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper that he had fled to Hong Kong because of the Chinese territory's "strong tradition of free speech".
The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed on Saturday that the US uses a program called PRISM to gather data trails left by targeted foreign citizens using the Internet outside the United States.
A separate program has been used to scoop up the telephone records of millions of Americans.
The United States and Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty in 1996, a year before the city was handed over from British to Chinese control, under which both parties agreed to hand over fugitive offenders.
But any US attempt to repatriate Snowden will be a complicated process, with Beijing able to veto extraditions which involve the "defense, foreign affairs or essential public interest or policy" of China. – Rappler.com