Edward Snowden awarded 2016 Norwegian PEN Ossietzky Prize











On 21 April, Edward Snowden received the 2016 Ossietzky Prize. President William Nygaard and Secretary General Hege Newth Nouri of Norsk PEN gave him the award in Moscow.

“I’m grateful for the support from Norwegian PEN” said Edward Snowden when he received the award, a lithography by Norwegian artist Nico Wideberg.

On 21 April, it had been a year since Edward Snowden filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian state together with Norwegian PEN. The lawsuit was filed in order to allow Snowden to travel to Norway without fear of extradition to the US, where he faces decades of imprisonment under the Espionage Act. Norwegian courts dismissed the case, the final dismissal fell in the Supreme Court in November 2016.

As a plan B, Norwegian PEN would go to Moscow and hand over the prize to Snowden personally. Last week, William Nygaard and Hege Newth Nouri travelled to Russia and met Edward Snowden. Accompanying Norwegian PEN were Snowden’s Norwegian lawyers from Schjødt Advokater and journalists from the Norwegian Broadcasting Company, who followed the case last year. The meeting took place in a hotel in Moscow.

Edward Snowden arrived a little late. He explained that the bus was so crowded he had to wait for the next one. He lives an almost normal life in Moscow, but at the same time he has isolated himself in the Russian society. He has chosen this way of life because he once again hopes to return to his native country and be brought to justice in the United States in a fair and impartial trial. Snowden will be tried under the so-called Espionage Act of 1917, a law that is unacceptable according to international human rights standards. This First World War law would condemn him to life imprisonment without a jury and defence, a sentencing he would serve in a high-risk prison under extremely severe conditions.

Edward Snowden explained that he spends most of his life online, digital communication is both his profession and way of life. He teaches via skype at several universities and holds speeches all over the world. Edward Snowden is also on the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an NGO that works to protect and support freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

We talked about the drone warfare, international law, the protection of whistle-blowers, Trump and Putin, love and everyday life in Russia, future prospects, but most of all we talked about the issues that Snowden has been fighting for for almost four years in involuntary exile: how to secure and strengthen individual privacy, whistle-blowers, journalists and others’ ability to communicate securely.

Snowden has a leave to remain in Russia until 2020, but his future is as uncertain as it was in 2013.

Norwegian PEN, together with his Norwegian lawyers, will assist Edward Snowden if he wishes to apply for asylum in countries other than Russia.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Company followed Norwegian PEN for a year as it tried to give the Ossietztky Prize to Edward Snowden in Norway. Watch their documentary «Snowden plan B» on Tuesday 2 May at 21:30/9.30 pm.

For further information contact

William Nygaard, President: +47 908 92 601
Hege Newth Nouri, Secretary-General: +47 930 02 262