Snowden Headed to Iceland?

As previously noted, Hong Kong, where PRISM leaker Edward Snowden is holed up, does have an extradition treaty with the U.S., however, there is a legal wrinkle that could let him evade immediate return to face charges. From The Guardian UK:

Hong Kong is unlikely to offer Edward Snowden a permanent refuge, but the NSA whistleblower could buy time by filing an asylum request, thanks to a landmark legal ruling that has thrown the system into disarray, a legal expert says.

For years, Hong Kong has relied on the United Nations refugee agency to handle the bulk of claims. But in March its court of final appeal ruled that the government must independently screen cases.

“No system has been proposed to implement the court’s decision as of yet. Until such a system is in place, persons with a bona fide refugee claim cannot be removed,” said Simon Young, director of the centre for comparative and public law at the University of Hong Kong.

A request on the grounds of persecution might in theory be an option for Snowden. “But it seems unlikely [to be approved] if there was going to be a fair trial and anything short of the death penalty,” he said.

In the one area where Hong Kong decided asylum claims itself before March – torture cases – it approved only one or two out of thousands, Young said. …

Snowden has said his predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with “shared values”, citing Iceland – although its ambassador to Beijing has pointed out that he cannot apply from outside the country.

Asylum claims lodged in Hong Kong were for resettlement to a third country, said Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch. While the UNHCR can still make decisions on cases, the March ruling means that those who are rejected have the right to have their case considered by Hong Kong officials.

“The ultimate outcome will not be that he can spend his life in Hong Kong, but he has some sort of assurance of a legal process,” Bequelin said.

Snowden thinks that Iceland is some sort of internet freedom haven, but does he know about this?

Seriously, Iceland and U.S. have an extradition treaty, and it’s unlikely that Iceland would want to antagonize the U.S. government by harboring this guy.

What say you?

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