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Europe

NSA whistleblower Snowden is not welcome in UK

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-25

Ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden is not welcome in the United Kingdom, officials in London have warned in a communiqué to all airlines serving British airports.

Britain has warned airlines around the world not to allow Edward Snowden, who leaked information on top-secret US government surveillance programmes, to fly to the United Kingdom.

The travel alert, confirmed to the Associated Press by an unnamed British diplomat, said Snowden was “highly likely to be refused entry to the UK.”

The diplomat told AP that the alert had been issued to carriers that fly into the UK, and that if any airline brought Snowden into the country it would be liable to a 2,000 British pounds (2,354 euros) fine.

He added that Snowden, who is probably in Hong Kong, would probably have been deemed by the Home Office to be detrimental to the “public good.”

Snowden, 29, revealed himself on Sunday as the source of top-secret documents about US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programmes that were reported earlier by the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.

Snowden has not been publicly charged with any crime and no known warrants have been issued for his arrest.

US Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters in Dublin on Friday that the case was still being investigated, but said he was “confident that the person who is responsible will be held accountable.”

Experts believe Snowden’s travel options are narrow because of the intense publicity generated by the case and the wide circulation of his photo, which is also contained on the carrier alert.

It was not clear on Friday if other Western European countries have also alerted airlines to not to bring Snowden into their countries.

Officials in France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands said they have not issued any warnings about possible travel by Snowden.

In Amsterdam, foreign ministry spokesman Weibe Alkema said the government would execute an arrest warrant for Snowden if one was issued.

At one point, Snowden expressed an interest in seeking refuge in Iceland, but the government there said no contact had been made.

China has not made any public comment on what it plans to do with Snowden or how long he would be welcome to stay in Hong Kong.

If the US eventually calls for his return, Snowden does have the option of applying for asylum or refugee status in Hong Kong, which maintains a Western-style legal system.

If Snowden chooses to fight it, his extradition to the U.S. could take years to make its way through Hong Kong’s courts.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-14

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