I received this email from Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Pirate Party, Iceland: RE: Edward SnowdenSubmitted by Puma for Life on Fri, 07/05/2013 - 16:50
Earlier today I sent out a mass email asking the Icelandic Parliament to grant asylum to Edward Snowden. I just received this email back from one of the Pirate Party members explaining in detail what took place.
Hello there, Ms. XXXX.
Thank you for your kind words and faith in the truth being known. The Pirate Party in Iceland has been trying to assist Mr. Snowden but unfortunately there's not much we can do.
Let me share with you what happened yesterday in the parliament of Iceland.
On the evening of July 3rd, 2013, the Pirate Party of Iceland received confirmation that Mr. Snowden had indeed requested asylum in Iceland although the government of Iceland did not recognize it formally. We have known for a long time that there is no legally safe way for him to either land in or remain in Iceland because of an extradition treaty that Iceland has with the United States. Therefore, his only hope to stay here is via citizenship, since according to the constitution, an Icelandic citizen cannot be extradited or forced out of the country by any legal means.
Building on the bill which was passed by parliament to provide a citizenship to Bobby Fischer in 2005, the Pirate Party in Iceland prepared a bill to give citizenship to Mr. Snowden. We spoke to members of other parties hoping that they would co-sponsor the bill with us, and subsequently, the following members of parliament were added as sponsors of the bill: Ögmundur Jónasson from the Leftist-Greens, Helgi Hjörvar from the Social Democrats and then finally Páll Valur Björnsson from Bright Future. No one in the parties in government showed any interest in being a part of this enterprise, but we made sure to ask them.
But the problem was of course that July 4th was the last day of this parliamentary session and the agenda had already been set throughout the day through an agreement between all parties except us in the Pirate Party. As we understood it, that agreement had already been broken because of various other matters in parliament which were bothering pretty much everyone, but were still entirely unrelated to the Snowden case. In any case, we spoke to the president of the parliament (I believe they're called "chairmen" in most other countries), Einar K. Guðfinnsson, who is a member of the Independence Party (one of the two government parties, alongside the Progressive Party) about putting the bill for Snowden's citizenship on the agenda, but after some consideration, he refused.
We then sent in a formal motion before parliament to have a vote on putting it on the agenda. Note that this was not the bill itself. This was merely a proposal to put the bill on the parliamentary agenda. Our main goal was to ensure that it would be on the agenda in the General Committee and also on the parliamentary agenda this fall when parliament convenes again.
It was this motion, to put the bill on the agenda, which failed yesterday on July 4th, 2013 before parliament.
This fall, I will be presenting the case before the General Committee, hoping that the members of that committee will be sympathetic to Mr. Snowden's case and that in due course, once we've managed to brief enough people in parliament, that we will be able to put it back on the agenda assuming that Mr. Snowden will still be both needing and wanting an Icelandic citizenship at that point in time. Obviously, no one know what the situation will be at that point, so the future is currently entirely unclear.
So, to be absolutely clear on what exactly happened on July 4th, 2013, in the Icelandic parliament:
1. Having received confirmation of Snowden's application for asylum in Iceland, the Pirate Party *prepared* the bill - but note that it does not automatically become part of the parliamentary agenda.
2. We tried to get it on the agenda on the same day by asking the president of the parliament, since this was the last day in session. He refused.
3. We then tried getting it on the agenda by proposing a vote on whether to put it on the agenda.
4. After some discourse in parliament, where the opposition was entirely sympathetic to Mr. Snowden but the government parties were not, the parliament of Iceland refused to put the bill on the agenda.
The parties which agreed were: The Pirate Party, Social Democrats, Leftist-Greens and Bright Future.
The parties which refused were: The Independence Party and the Progressive Party.
So right now we're exactly where were were on July 2nd. The bill never made it to the agenda and has therefore NOT been voted on, although the attitudes of the ruling parties has become uncomfortably clear.
Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson