Snowden’s Russian lawyer has warned his client not to travel to Oslo to accept his prize, even if given assurances of a safe passage by the Norwegians, because of fears he may be extradited to the US to face spying charges.
Anatolij Kutsjerna told Russian radio station Echo Moskvy that Norway’s active extradition treaty with the US meant there was a high chance Snowden could be taken to the US if he stepped foot on Norwegian soil.
These concerns were heightened by the US State Department, with spokesperson Marie Harf telling AFP that the US would pressure any country to turn Snowden into US authorities.
"We would advise any government that there's only one place he should travel, and that's back here to the US to face the charges he faces."
The former NSA contractor was this week awarded the Bjørnson Prize by the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression "for his work protecting privacy and for shining a critical light on US surveillance of its citizens and others".
Representatives of the academy were among many pressuring the Norwegian government to offer Snowden a safe passage to collect his award, and the $12,700 prize money at a ceremony in Oslo on September 5.
However, Norwegian politicians, including the country’s justice minister Anders Anundsen, have refused to provide Snowden with any guarantees. He said:
"I will not take over case management for individual cases. This case will be treated on an equal footing with all other cases of the same type."
Snowden is currently living in Russia, where he was granted a three-year residence permit after it was revealed he leaked numerous documents detailing the surveillance practices of many of the world’s governments.
However, if the 31-year-old leaves Russia he faces the prospect of being extradited to the US, where he is charged with three breaches of the Espionage Act, which carries the penalty of up to 30 years in prison.