Prism revelations: Home Office warns airlines not to fly NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Britain

Carriers who fly him to the UK are told they face fines and the costs of his detention

Airlines have been warned by the Home Office not to fly the CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Britain as he would be turned away on arrival.

The move signals the Government’s determination to avoid a repeat of the controversy over the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly a year, after being granted asylum by the South American nation.

Mr Snowden, a former CIA contractor, is in hiding after admitting being the source of classified documents that revealed the huge extent of US surveillance operations. His current whereabouts is unknown after he disappeared from a Hong Kong hotel this week.

He has not yet been charged with any offence, but the US Government looks certain to attempt to bring him back to the US to face criminal charges. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, said: “I can assure you we will hold accountable the person who is responsible for these extremely damaging leaks.

“The national security of the United States has been damaged as a result of these leaks. The safety of the American people, the safety of the people who reside in allied nations have been put at risk as a result of these leaks.”

Mr Snowden, 29, a former technical assistant at the CIA, revealed himself as the source of top-secret documents about the National Security Agency’s monitoring of phone and internet data after he quit his job with the security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

His revelations about the Prism programme provoked uproar on both sides of the Atlantic. Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to give a statement to MPs after the disclosure this month that data collected by NSA was shared with GCHQ in Cheltenham. Mr Hague insisted all GCHQ operations had been legal.

There is no evidence Mr Snowden wants to travel to Britain, but the Home Office has written to major international airlines to make clear he would not be welcome in this country. They have been told: “Carriers should deny boarding. This individual is highly likely to be refused entry to the UK.” The letter contains Mr Snowden’s photograph, passport number and date of birth. It warns that airlines which allow Mr Snowden to fly could be fined and liable to the costs of detaining and removing him from Britain.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has powers to turn away foreign nationals whose presence in the UK is deemed “detrimental to the public good”. The Home Office refused to comment on the letter sent out by the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network, part of UK Border Agency.

But a British official confirmed its authenticity and told Associated Press it was dispatched to airlines. It is not clear if other governments had issued similar warnings to carriers. Civil liberties groups will today protest in Hong Kong in support of Mr Snowden.

The European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said yesterday US security measures should not be conducted at the expense of the public’s rights. She said there were still “fundamental issues” over the use of Prism against targets in Europe.

Where next? Snowden's options

Russia

Vladimir Putin has hinted that the whistleblower could be given asylum. The Russian President’s spokesman has said: “If we receive such a request, it will be considered.”

Iceland

Snowden named Iceland when he said his “predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values”. He explained: “They stood up for people over internet freedom.”

Ecuador

The South American nation granted asylum last year to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, right, who is still holed up in its London embassy.

Venezuela

Surprisingly, Venezuela has an extradition treaty with the US, but its leadership is deeply hostile to the American government.

France

It has no extradition treaty with the US, which is why it shelters the film director Roman Polanski, who fled America rather than face a judge after admitting sex with a 13-year-old.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there