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Norway court refuses to grant Snowden no-extradition pledge

Norway's Supreme Court has rejected Edward Snowden's request to enter the country without the risk of being extradited to the US. He had hoped to receive an award for outstanding efforts for freedom of expression.

The Norwegian branch of the PEN writers' group saw a petition seeking to secure Edward Snowden's safe passage to Oslo rejected on Friday. Norway's Supreme Court said it could not preemptively evaluate extradition requests.

Norway's PEN Centre had hoped to present the fugitive whistle-blower with the Ossietzky Prize for outstanding efforts for freedom of expression.

"We are very disappointed and really regret it," PEN president William Nygaard said following the court's decision.

PEN had already postponed the award ceremony from November to next June in the hope that Snowden would be able to personally accept the prize. Nygaard said that Snowden would likely receive the award in Russia and that PEN would continue to "do our utmost to highlight the role of whistleblowers."

Espionage charges

Snowden faces charges of espionage and theft of state secrets in the US after he leaked details of a secret US eavesdropping program to journalists. If extradited and found guilty in his homeland, he faces up to 30 years in prison. He currently lives in Moscow, where he has been granted asylum by the Russian government.

Norway was one of the first countries Snowden applied for asylum to after fleeing the US in 2013. However, Oslo said that any asylum seeker had to be physically present in the country to apply.

Snowden won a similar Norwegian award in 2015 that he was similarly unable to collect. The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last three years, which is also awarded in Norway, although he has never won.

The Ossietzky prize celebrates freedom of speech in journalism and literature. It is named after the German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who won the 1936 Nobel Peace Prize for disclosing Germany's rearmament programs, a policy that violated the Treaty of Versailles. He was jailed for treason and unable to attend the Oslo ceremony 80 years ago.

dm/jm (dpa, AFP, AP)

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