Spokesperson for Wikileaks Kristinn Hrafnsson said in an interview with Swedish national broadcaster SR yesterday that the organization is prepared to help Edward Snowden, who leaked information about the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), to apply for political asylum in Iceland.
Kristinn Hrafnsson. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
Kristinn stated that the information Snowden leaked about the personal surveillance practiced by the NSA and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is very important and supports what Wikileaks has claimed for a long time, that these affairs are much more severe than what the public realizes, ruv.is reports.
Snowden defended his actions by saying it should be in the hands of the public to decide whether the government’s methods to obtain information are appropriate. He pointed out that while working for the NSA, he could have observed the telephone and online communication of almost anyone.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated last weekend that Snowden’s actions had caused significant damage. U.S. authorities had earlier pledged to locate the whistleblower. Snowden is currently based in Hong Kong.
U.S. journalist and blogger Glenn Greenwald, who has authored articles for The Guardian about the affair, stated in an interview on NBC yesterday that the information leak would make it easier for U.S. federal courts to determine whether the U.S. Constitution was violated by the NSA and CIA.
So far, it had proven difficult for human rights organizations to take matters of personal surveillance to court because of the secrecy surrounding the agencies’ methods for obtaining information. Greenwald denied that Snowden’s actions had jeopardized U.S. national security.
Icelandic MP for the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who also chairs the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI), told RÚV that Snowden probably bases his opinion of Iceland as a country friendly towards whistleblowers on a parliamentary resolution approved by the Icelandic parliament, Alþingi, in 2010 on the protection of the freedom of information and expression, in which the IMMI was involved.
Birgitta pointed out that Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was one of those voting in favor of the resolution and that many members of the new government care about the freedom of information and expression being upheld in Iceland.