Icelandic MP vows to assist NSA leak source in seeking asylum
REYKJAVIK, June 10 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) - Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir has come out in support of self-proclaimed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, vowing in a statement issued on behalf of the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) to offer assistance and advice in his reported efforts to seek asylum in the Nordic country.
Jónsdóttir is the Chairman of the Board at IMMI, an Iceland-based advocacy group that endeavors to foster press freedom around the world through the research and promotion of best legal practices in the field. According to the IMMI website, Jónsdóttir has in the past bneen an activist and spokesperson for a number of advocacy groups, including Wikileaks.
According to a statement issued by IMMI Sunday, which mentions by name Jónsdóttir and IMMI Executive Director Smári McCarthy, “Tonight the identity of Edward Snowden, the brave whistleblower who exposed these clandestine projects for monitoring the world’s population, was revealed in an interview, where it was implied that he has an interest in seeking asylum in Iceland. Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability.”
The statement notes that the organization is presently trying to get in touch with Snowden in order to verify his desire to seek asylum in Iceland, and to discuss details, albeit noting that Iceland may not be the ideal choice, “depending on various questions regarding the legal framework.” IMMI plans to seek a meeting with Icelandic Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir in the coming week in order to discuss the possibility of a swift asylum request.
Snowden took credit Sunday for having leaked the top-secret documents to The Guardian, which in turn exposed his identity – at his request. He is described in the report as a 29-year-old man who formerly worked as a technical assistant for the CIA prior to entering the private sector. Most recently, he worked for consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
Booz Allen issued a statement Sunday making clear its disapproval of the conduct claimed by Snowden, explaining: “Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”
Likewise, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement Sunday acknowledging its awareness that an individual had come forward claiming responsibility for the leak, and adding that the matter had been referred to the US Department of Justice. In closing, the statement added, “Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law.”
A day earlier, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had issued a statement explaining the surveillance program underlying the leak, and condemning the leak as “reckless.” According to Clapper, the program was cast in a particularly unflattering and incomplete light by the media’s lust for rapid publication: “In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context–including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government–to these effective tools.”
Snowden justified his decision to The Guardian, stating: "My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."
In an interview with The Guardian conducted from Hong Kong, Snowden expressed his desire to seek asylum in a country that shares his values. According to Snowden, “The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.”