U.K. warns airlines not to bring U.S. whistleblower, Snowden, to its soil

Edward Snowden

The alert was issued by the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network, part of the U.K. Border Agency.

British authorities have issued a stern warning to airlines around the world not to allow ex-CIA man, who leaked top secret U.S. phone and internet surveillance secrets, fly to its soil, threatening defaulters with a 2,000 pound (N510, 000) fine.

Reports say a travel alert, dated Monday on a Home Office letterhead, had warned carriers to deny Edward Snowden boarding because “the individual is highly likely to be refused entry to the U.K.”

The Associated Press news agency reported seeing a document taken Friday at a Thai airport issuing the instruction. The AP said a British diplomat confirmed that the document was genuine and was sent out to airlines around the world. Airlines in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore also confirmed the alert had been issued.

The alert was issued by the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network, part of the U.K. Border Agency.

The document titled “RALON Carrier Alert 15/13” had a photograph of Snowden and gave his date of birth and passport number. It said: “If this individual attempts to travel to the UK: Carriers should deny boarding.” It warned that carriers may “be liable to costs relating to the individual’s detention and removal” should they allow him to travel, according to the AP.

Mr. Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, admitted on Sunday leaking to reporters of The Guardian and the Washington Post the classified programme under which U.S. government gathers phone data of Americans and internet data from technology companies.

The companies include Google, Facebook, Skype, Youtube, Microsoft and others. The companies are mandated to secretly surrender the data of their users to the U.S government screening for terror threats.

The disclosure, which came first last Wednesday, has drawn widespread condemnations as well as support. While many Americans criticize the secrecy behind the program, some said they do not mind partially giving up their privacy for improved security.

Mr. Snowden fled to Hong Kong before opening up on the program, hoping to be protected by Hong Kong’s liberal laws on free speech. He said he acted to protect people’s right to privacy.

On Thursday, the FBI said it will go after him as his act has “deeply hurt” the United States.

The U.K. diplomat said the alert issued by his country said Snowden would likely have been deemed by the Home Office to be detrimental to the “public good.” Defaulting air carrier will pay 2,000 pounds.

Even without charges, Mr. Snowden’s world is now shrinking. If other countries follow Britain’s example and bar his entry, Mr. Snowden would have few options for seeking refuge if he were not allowed to stay in his preferred sanctuary of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, the AP says.

China has not made any public comment on what it plans to do with Snowden or how long he would be welcome to stay in Hong Kong. A popular Communist Party-backed newspaper, however, has urged China’s leadership to milk Snowden for information rather than expel him, saying his revelations concern China’s national interest.

If the U.S. eventually calls for his return, Mr. Snowden does have the option of applying for asylum or refugee status in Hong Kong, which maintains a Western-style legal system. If Mr. Snowden chose to fight it, his extradition to the U.S. could take years to make its way through Hong Kong’s courts.

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