US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden's request to guarantee against extradition to the US has been rejected by Norway's Supreme Court on Friday (25 November). The ruling upheld the verdict of two lower courts, turning down Snowden's attempt to secure safe passage to Oslo to receive a free speech award.
In April, 33-year-old Snowden filed a lawsuit in an attempt to gain free passage to the Nordic country. However, both the Oslo District Court and an appeals court dismissed the case. The Supreme Court ruled that Norway's Justice Ministry could not be compelled to give an advance decision over whether or not they would extradite Snowden to the US.
He was due to receive the Ossietsky freedom of speech award for "outstanding efforts for freedom of expression" in Oslo earlier this month.
Having leaked thousands of classified NSA documents revealing the scale of mass surveillance in the US and UK in 2013, Snowden is facing charges in the US brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. He has been charged with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and willful communication of classified communication intelligence information to an unauthorised person, which could put him in prison for up to 30 years.
The former NSA contractor is currently residing in Moscow where he has been in exile since the massive leaks in 2013.
In September, Snowden called on President Barack Obama to pardon him before he leaves office in January 2017 on moral grounds.
However, Obama recently suggested that it was unlikely he would pardon Snowden because he "hasn't gone before a court."
"I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something I would comment on at this point," Obama said in an interview published by German publication Der Spiegel and public broadcaster ARD. "I think that Mr. Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community.
"If everybody took the approach that I make my own decisions about these issues, then it would be very hard to have an organized government or any kind of national security system."
In 2013, President-elect Donald Trump called Snowden a "terrible traitor" and a "bad guy," suggesting that "there is still a thing called execution."
Earlier this week, the 33-year-old whistleblower defended his decision to leak the top-secret documents, adding that he is not worried about the Trump administration ramping up efforts to arrest him.
"I don't care," Snowden told an internet conference in Stockholm, speaking via a video link from Russia, the Guardian reports. "There reality here is that yes, Donald Trump has appointed a new director of the Central Intelligence Agency who uses me as a specific example to say that, look, dissidents should be put to death.
"But if I get hit by a bus, or a drone, or dropped off an airplane tomorrow, you know what? It doesn't actually matter that much to me, because I believe in the decisions that I've already made."