Should Snowden get asylum in Sweden?

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Should Snowden get asylum in Sweden?
Edward Snowden. Photo: TT

As Edward Snowden was officially awarded his alternative Nobel prize on Monday, the world was reacting to calls for him to be given asylum in Sweden, made by a top MP in the country. The Local has rounded-up some of the key and most controversial comments.


A leading American academic who is based in Sweden has told The Local that Snowden should be granted asylum, saying he'd be welcomed with 'open arms' if he was a whistleblower from China or Iran.

Christian Christensen, Professor of Journalism at Stockholm Univeristy, was reacting to the proposal by Green Party MP Valter Mutt that Snowden should be offered a lifeline in Sweden.

"Speaking as an American citizen who has been living in Sweden for a long time then personally I think it is a good idea.

"If Snowden was a Chinese or Iranian whistleblower then he would have been welcomed to Sweden with open arms already. The reason why he hasn't been is because he's American and Sweden doesn't want to harm its relationship with the US," Christensen told The Local.

The American is currently holed up in Russia and has had his US passport revoked. Snowden has been awarded an alternative Nobel Prize known as the Swedish Right Livelihood Award but is unable to attend Monday's ceremony at the Swedish parliament in person. 

Among the secrets revealed by Snowden were that Sweden signed a secret intelligence treaty with the US to spy on other countries in 1954 and that it routinely spies on Russia civil targets. 

Swedish politician Valter Mutt said that Snowden was a 'hero' and compared him to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. He also said the official government plane could be used to fetch him from Russia and would be taking the matter up with the foreign minister Margot Wallström

"From the foreign ministry's side we can only say that it isn't necessary to go and get Snowden with the government plane. Asylum is something else and that is a question for the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), " Erik Wirkensjö, press secretary for Margot Wallström told Aftonbladet. 

Meanwhile the left party's (Vänsterpartiet) foreign affairs spokesperson Hans Linde said the issue for asylum should remain with the courts and not in the hands of politicians. 

"It's very difficult for me as a political representative to go into who should be granted asylum," Linde told Aftonbladet. 

The chairperson of the Swedish standing committee on foreign affairs (riksdagens utrikesutskott) Kenneth G Forslund said that comparing Snowden to Gandhi and Mandela was "perhaps stretching things a bit." 

Snowden has also been compared to American whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who published the controversial Pentagon papers in the 70s, which revealed American government secrets about its Vietnam war policy.

"He'd like to go to Sweden. I would hope the Swedish public would welcome him and thank him. I would think he has certainly earned a warm welcome in most countries in the world, most democratic countries and countries that want to be democratic," Ellsberg told SVT's Agenda programme.

However, the prospects of Snowden coming to Sweden are unlikely to happen according to Ellsberg. 

"Governments are another matter. They are worried that they would get into trouble with my country and I'm ashamed to say that. No country wants to get on bad terms with the US just for a principle." 

That sentiment was backed by Christian Christensen who rated Snowden's chances of coming to Sweden at "10 percent" who added that his adopted country's relationship with America has changed.

"Sweden recognizing Palestine was a clear statement and we had foreign minister Margot Wallström saying that Sweden doesn't just follow US policy. Carl Bildt was very friendly with the States but that may change now.

"Should somebody be put in prison if what they reveal is illegal surveillance operations? Europe has a responsibility to Snowden. I get the impression that the majority of public opinion would be in favour of it," Christensen told The Local.

Snowden has been recognized by Swedish Right Livelihood Award together with Guardian editor Alan Rusbriger, who published reams of material leaked by the American, and has been tweeting regularly (see above) about his time in Sweden.

Although he cannot appear in person Snowden is expected to give a short speech via video link. 

The Local/pr


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