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Edward Snowden To Take Norway To Court To Secure Free Passage

ICE Graveyard 21/04/2016 Paul Vale
RELDBMGF10000219396 © Andrew Kelly / Reuters RELDBMGF10000219396

OSLO, April 21 (Reuters) - Edward Snowden will sue the Norwegian state in a bid to secure free passage to the Scandinavian country, a Norwegian law firm representing the former U.S. spy contractor said on Thursday.

Snowden has been invited to Norway to receive a freedom of speech award from the Norwegian branch of writers' group PEN International, but according to his lawyers he is worried that he would be handed over to the United States.

"The purpose is to get legally established that Norway has no right to extradite Snowden to the U.S.," the law firm, Schjoedt, said in a statement.

"U.S. authorities have already asked that Snowden will be extradited to the U.S. if he was to arrive in Norway," Hallvard Helle, the lawyer representing Snowden, told Reuters.

"It is a case they (the Norwegian authorities) have not wished to comment on previously, so therefore we want a legal clarification of this," Helle said, when asked whether Norway had said it would extradite Snowden if he entered the country.

The Norwegian justice ministry was not immediately able to comment.

Supporters see Snowden as a whistleblower who boldly exposed government excess. The U.S. government has filed espionage charges against him for leaking intelligence information. Snowden fled the U.S. in May 2013 and has been living in Russia where he was granted asylum.

(Reporting by Camilla Knudsen and Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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