STOCKHOLM, 19 JUNE: Iceland said today it has held informal talks with an intermediary of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden who reportedly may want to seek political asylum there.
“A representative of his has, to my knowledge… had some informal discussions with some employees of a couple of ministries, but no formal discussions,” Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said during a visit to Stockholm.
He said that Snowden, who is holed up in Hong Kong after blowing the lid on a vast US electronic surveillance programme, would need to be in Iceland in order to apply for asylum.
“So since he’s not in the country it’s not for me to comment on presently,” he said.
Interior Minister Hanna Kristjansdottir told public broadcaster RUV yesterday that the government had been approached by a spokesman for the WikiLeaks website, Kristinn Hrafnsson, who wanted to “discuss the matter with a representative of the ministry”.
“He got a meeting where the matter was discussed,” she said.
She said however that the government did not feel bound by a 2010 resolution by the Icelandic parliament seeking to make the country a safe haven for journalists and whistleblowers from around the globe.
“The resolution is not a part of the laws that apply to asylum seekers,” she said.
In an interview with British newspaper the Guardian on June 10, Snowden described Iceland as a country that shared his values.
However, observers say the new centre-right coalition in Reykjavik may be less willing to anger the United States than its leftist predecessor.
Former US government contractor Snowden, 29, fled to Hong Kong on May 20 but the United States has yet to file any formal extradition request. afp