Iceland's Parliament house in Reykjavik (Reuters / Ints Kalnins)
Icelandic Pirate Party, which is represented in the parliament, has proposed a bill on granting NSA leaker Edward Snowden citizenship of the island nation.
Iceland’s political Pirate Party managed to win three seats in the Parliament, the Althing, becoming the first piratic party in the world to make it to a national legislative body.
The draft law proposed by Pirate Party suggests that Snowden should immediately be granted the citizenship.
The proposal received limited support in Parliament on Thursday, the last day before summer recess, with only six members of minority parties in favor out of parliament's 63 members.
It is unlikely though that the bill will be considered any time soon because of the summer break.
“We wanted to do this earlier but citizenship is an extremely delicate issue when it's granted by parliament instead of granted through ordinary legal processes,” Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Pirate Party’s MP wrote on his page on Facebook.
However, he said, on Wednesday the party received confirmation that former CIA employee Snowden had requested asylum in Iceland, but “he would undoubtedly be extradited from Iceland unless he were a citizen of Iceland.”
The Pirate Party “saw no other way” rather than to try and grant the NSA leaker citizenship the same way the parliament of Iceland granted it to Bobby Fischer some years ago, Gunnarsson explained. The American chess grandmaster got Icelandic citizenship in 2005, after he had been on the run from the US for over a decade for violating economic sanctions in a match he played against Boris Spassky in the former Yugoslavia in 1992.
On Monday, an application in Snowden’s name was faxed to the Icelandic Embassy in Moscow, his current location, and was then forwarded to the Icelandic Foreign Ministry, Iceland Review reported. Earlier, the country’s Foreign Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir underlined that Snowden’s application would be processed the same way as all other applications for political asylum in Iceland.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP from the Pirate Party, observed that the process might take a while and there are no guarantees that Snowden would not be extradited while waiting for the decision. In her view, Snowden’s case should be considered in a special order, since he faces a possible death sentence in the US and “it is illegal to extradite a person who faces the death sentence from Iceland,” she wrote on her page in Twitlonger.
“It is important to note that Iceland has a terrible track record when it comes to granting political asylum to people seeking shelter, as it is hardly ever granted and thus a too dangerous path to be recommended for Snowden,” Jonsdottir wrote.
A former Icelandic presidential candidate, Asthor Magnusson has also stepped in for the American whistleblower. Magnusson, a businessman and photographer, is collecting signatures from Icelanders to help him receive the citizenship in the Nordic republic, reported News of Iceland website on Thursday.
“I appeal to the oldest parliament in the world, the Althing in Iceland to grant a citizenship to Edward Joseph Snowden and issue him with travel documents for safe passage to Reykjavik,” he said in his appeal, which will be sent to the parliament. “As matters have developed, I think that Icelanders should say 'This is enough': We support open society and human rights. It's a basic human right to grant this man asylum in Iceland,” the statement reads.
Edward Snowden is wanted in the US on charges of espionage after he leaked NSA secret surveillance programs. He first fled his homeland for Hong Kong and since June 23 the whistleblower has been stuck in the transit zone of the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, trying to find a country to grant him asylum. So far, no one has opened their doors to the American, who is seen by many as “a true hero.”
What makes things even more complicated, Snowden's passport was revoked by the US and an Ecuadorean travel documents he used to travel to Russia was declared invalid by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.