Iceland businessman says private plane ready for Snowden

An Icelandic business executive Friday said a private plane is on standby to transport National Security Agency secrets

Written by Associated Press | Reykjavik | Published: June 22, 2013 1:23 am

An Icelandic business executive Friday said a private plane is on standby to transport National Security Agency secrets whistleblower Edward Snowden from Hong Kong to Iceland.

Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson said he has not spoken directly with Snowden but has been in touch with a third party representing him.

The businessman,who has connections to the WikiLeaks secret-spilling organization,said he has access to planes in Hong Kong and mainland China that Snowden could use.

But Iceland’s government says it has not received an asylum request from Snowden,who has revealed his role in providing secret NSA documents about widespread surveillance programmes.

Iceland Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Tomasson said Snowden hasn’t approached the ministry and could initiate an asylum request if he was already in Iceland.

When asked about the reports of Sigurvinsson chartering a private plane to fly Snowden to Iceland,Tomasson said: “We don’t object to that. But we don’t have any knowledge other than what has been in the news. We can’t comment any further on that.”

US officials have expressed an interest in prosecuting Snowden for his admitted role in the publication of the documents. Snowden fled to Hong Kong and is hiding.

Sigurvinsson said Snowden’s potential private flight is being funded by private donations. “There are a number of people that are interested in freedom of speech and recognize the importance of knowing who is spying on us,” he said.

Money is being raised on Snowden’s behalf by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee based in the US,but it was not expected to be tapped to help with the cost of a possible flight to Iceland.

Spokesman Matt Wall today said more than $20,800 had been raised so far to pay for possible legal fees but this would not be put to use for Snowden’s personal expenses.

Sigurvinsson said his group hopes to obtain Icelandic citizenship for Snowden. “We are hoping that the government does what they did with Bobby Fischer,” he said,referring to the late chess master who went to Iceland to escape US prosecution.

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