Letter to the Prime Minster and the Minister of Justice

In the care of
The Honourable Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg
and the Norwegian Minister of Justice, Anders Anundsen Esq.

Oslo, June 1st  2015

The Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Academy is proud to announce that The Bjørnson Prize 2015 is to be awarded Edward Snowden for his work on the important issue of the right of privacy, and for being instrumental in heightening the critical awareness regarding the surveillance currently being done by states on their nationals.

The Bjørnson prize will be awarded Edward Snowden in Molde on Saturday 5th of September as part of a larger seminar where the main topic is dedicated to the right of privacy, surveillance and monitoring. The board of the academy has given the responsibility of the seminar to a sub committee consisting of three of the board’s members, Hege Newth Nouri, Kristenn Einarsson and Thomas Hylland Eriksen.
Please find the seminar program attached.

The board says in the press release regarding selecting Edward Snowden as the awardee of this year’s prize:
The Bjørnson Academy awards Snowden this year’s Bjørnson Prize because he, through his revelations, have shown how the electronic integrated information world can be a threat to personal integrity, and also might pose a threat against freedom of expression. If everything being said and written can be recorded and stored by the state, the free exchange of thoughts, opinions and ideas will, in diverse and unpredictable ways, come to harm. Many will restrain themselves because ‘big brother is watching you’, while others might face sanctions because they have transgressed the invisible boundaries defined by the state. This is relevant to several of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s main concerns as we know them, as the monitoring of a state’s nationals represents a threat to both individual freedom and freedom of expression.

The Bjørnson Academy’s board, which also serve as the jury selecting the annual winner of The Bjørnson Prize, consists of the following members:

Hege Newth Nouri, president of the Academy and Secretary General of Norwegian Pen
Peter Normann Waage, vice president of the Academy, State Scholar, writer and essayist
Kristenn Einarsson, director of the Norwegian Publishers Association
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, professor at the University of Oslo
Knut Ødegård, State Scholar, poet and translator
Kari Vogt, senior lecturer at the University of Oslo
Thorvald Steen, State Scholar and writer

The Bjørnson Academy has contacted the renowned law firms, Advokatfirmaet Schjødt AS, here represented by senior barristers Cato Schiøtz and Emanuel Feinberg, and Advokatfirmaet Hestenes og Dramer & Co, here represented by senior barrister Frode Sulland, for them to look at the legal possibility of Edward Snowden coming to Molde for there in person to receive this most deserved prize.

The evaluation from the above mentioned firms makes it clear that there is judicial reason to believe that Edward Snowden may come to Norway in person from his refuge in Moscow, without being extradited to the US. This conclusion is based on the rule of exception regarding breaking the law for political reasons as described in the Norwegian law of extradition § 5, first subsection. Even if §5, second subsection, states that if there is also a non political aspect to the purported violation of the law, extradition may be executed, there is a strong argument in this particular case, that also the non political aspect of Snowden’s actions can be viewed as politically based and motivated.

Furthermore, regarding Snowden’s possibility of coming to Norway without a valid passport, the law of extradition, § 8, third subsection, clearly states that this may be left to the courtesy of the government.

The Bjørnson Academy, here represented by the subcommittee is, together with our legal representatives, hereby making a formal request to Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen and Prime Minister Erna Solberg to ensure that Edward Snowden is allowed to come to Norway to receive the prize in Molde, without risking being extradited to the United States. We ask for a speedy reply to this letter, since the award ceremony is only a few months away.

Yours sincerely,
on behalf of The Bjørnson Academy

Hege Newth Nouri                        Kristenn Einarsson                    Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Copies of this letter will be forwarded to:
Julie Brodtkorp, Permanent Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Office
Lars Øy, Permanent Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Office
Hans Røsjorde, Permanent Secretary, the Minister of Justice’ Office
Vidar Brein-Karlsen, Permanent Secretary, the Minister of Justice’ Office
Jøran Kallmyr, Permanent Secretary, the Minister of Justice’ Office
Advokatfirmaet Schjødt, represented by Cato Schiøtz and Emanuel Feinberg
Ben Wizner, acting US lawyer for the interests of Edward Snowden