Former NSA security official and whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been awarded the prestigious Ossietzky Prize by PEN International and has been invited to personally receive the award in Oslo on 18 November. In a pre-emptive move, Snowden will reportedly take Norway to court to avoid the possibility of extradition charges being brought against him by the US, should he visit Oslo.
Reuters reported lawyer Hallvard Halle, employed by Norwegian law firm Schjoedt to represent Snowden, as saying: "The purpose is to get legally established that Norway has no right to extradite Snowden to the US. It is a case they (the Norwegian authorities) have not wished to comment on previously, so therefore we want a legal clarification of this."
US authorities have already asked that Snowden be extradited to the country if he was to arrive in Norway, Halle added.
Snowden has been awarded the Ossietzky Prize for his contribution to the freedom of expression. PEN International's Norwegian branch said "we will do our utmost to ensure that Snowden may receive the prize in person". However, given Norway's close relationship with the US, Snowden's extradition may be highly likely, unless Norway's judiciary decides to take a stand and denies the US's extradition request.
Snowden is reportedly also considered to be one of the top picks for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which coincidentally is also picked by a Norwegian committee. The former NSA analyst currently resides in Russia, where he was granted asylum after he fled the US, having leaked crucial information about the NSA's surveillance activities.
While the US has filed espionage charges against Snowden, his supporters across the world have touted his exposure of the US government's violation on privacy as a desperate act of personal courage supporting and defending free speech.
The Ossietzky Prize is named in honour of German journalist, pacifist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Carl von Ossietzky, who was awarded the Nobel in 1935 for uncovering and disclosing the details of Germany's re-armament, which stood in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.