US sends Government an arrest warrant for Snowden
Options narrow for US whistleblower as Iceland will not to debate issue before summer recess
People hold portraits of former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden (left) and US Army Private Bradley Manning, a suspected whistleblower who is on trial in the US for “aiding the enemy”, during a protest in front the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
The Government has received a request from the US authorities to arrest fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.
Meanwhile, Mr Snowden’s bid for Icelandic citizenship has failed after the parliament there voted not to debate the matter before the summer recess.
The provisional arrest warrant received by the Irish Government from the US authorities is being handled by the extradition unit in the Garda’s crime and security branch based in Garda headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin.
The warrant has been issued as a pre-emptive strike against any effort by Mr Snowden to evade the US authorities by flying from Moscow to Havana on a commercial flight that stops off at Shannon for refuelling.
The warrant would enable the Garda to arrest Mr Snowden under the Extradition Act 1965.
He could be brought before a District Court where a judge could detain him in custody for up to 18 days during which time the Americans could execute a full extradition process to bring him back to America to stand trial.
The vote in Iceland leaves Mr Snowden - believed to be staying in a transit area at a Moscow airport - with one option fewer as he seeks a country to shelter him from US espionage charges.
Six members of parliament tabled a proposal late yesterday to grant Mr Snowden citizenship after they received a request from him via WikiLeaks, opposition parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir said.
But a majority of parliamentarians voted against allowing the proposal to be put on the agenda, a day before parliament went into summer recess. It does not reconvene until September.
“Snowden has formally requested citizenship. But nothing is now going to happen. We could not even vote on it,” Ms Jonsdottir told Reuters.
In a letter dated July 4th, posted on Ms Jonsdottir’s blog, Mr Snowden wrote that he had been left “de facto-stateless” by his government, which revoked his passport after he fled the country and leaked information about US surveillance operations.
He has sought asylum in a number of countries, but most, including Iceland, say he must be on their soil for his application to be accepted. His request for citizenship was a different tack, hoping Iceland would give him a passport, as it has done in at least one similar case in the past.
“I appreciate that Iceland, a small but significant country in the world community, shows such courage and commitment to its higher laws and ideals,” he wrote in the letter.