Whistleblower Edward Snowden filed a lawsuit at the Oslo District Court in Norway in order to seek assurance that the country will not extradite him to the United States if he attends a local award ceremony.
Snowden is this year's recipient of the Ossietzky Prize after the local branch of writers' group PEN International decided to award him because of his contribution in defending freedom of speech.
"With this year's Ossietzky Prize Norwegian PEN wants to highlight that surveillance may only be carried out within the framework of internationally accepted legal standards for the protection of individual civil liberties," says Norsk PEN in a press release. "By awarding the prize to Edward Snowden, Norwegian PEN wishes to pay respect to the unique role he has undertaken as a whistle blower."
Snowden's trip to Norway could put him at risk of getting extradited to the United States, where he is facing espionage charges for leaking classified information.
The Schjodt law firm filed the lawsuit on Snowden's behalf, arguing that political crimes and other governing rules on extradition were not included in the bilateral treaty that exists between Norway and the United States. It added that Snowden's whistleblower activities are undoubtedly executed in the light of political reasoning.
According to the law firm, it has evidence on the United States' filing of extradition request to local authorities in Norway should Snowden arrive in the country.
Snowden has been avoiding extradition charges by the United States since 2013. He is now in Russia, where he is allowed to seek asylum. Snowden fears that going to Norway to receive his award will put him at the huge risk of getting apprehended by U.S. officials. If extradited, Snowden is bound to face trial in U.S. court.
"Edward Snowden has revealed the questionable, extensive global surveillance and espionage conducted by states on their citizens and on single countries," says Norsk PEN. "Snowden's disclosure of NSA's surveillance of millions of phone calls resulted in a ruling in the US court of appeals, that the NSA's storage of telephone metadata is indeed illegal, because it was not approved by Congress."
Snowden has been invited to receive the award in Oslo on Nov. 18. Norwegian PEN said that they will do their best to ensure that Snowden will be at the awarding ceremony to personally receive his prize.