PEN Norway Awards Snowden, Calls on Government to Grant Safe Passage

Norway’s chapter of the freedom of expression organization PEN on Monday announced it would award its Ossietzky Prize to whistleblower Edward Snowden for his role in exposing mass surveillance—and challenged the Norwegian government to allow him to come to Oslo to accept it without fear of extradition.

“It is high time for a political initiative to challenge the threats towards the prizewinner, an initiative that should conclude with an offer of stay and protection,” the organization wrote in its press release announcing the prize. “A suitable start of such a process would be for the Norwegian government to guarantee him safe passage to receive the Ossietzky Prize for 2016.”

Snowden faces espionage charges in the U.S. for his 2013 disclosure of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) unlawful mass surveillance of its citizens and foreign allies. Although the European Parliament in 2015 recognized his status as a defender of human rights and urged member states to grant him asylum, none of the countries in the European Union have heeded the call.

Norsk PEN’s challenge to the government is the second time in as many years that a literary human rights organization in Norway called on its leaders to guarantee Snowden’s freedom to collect a freedom of expression prize in person.

As the English-language Norwegian publication News in English reports: