Britain asks airlines to block NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from flying to the UK

By Reuters
Friday, June 14, 2013 8:44 EDT
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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong
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(Reuters) – Britain has asked airlines worldwide to block American Edward Snowden, who leaked details of U.S. government telephone and internet surveillance programs, from boarding any plane headed for the United Kingdom, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

The Associated Press, in a report out of Bangkok, said British officials confirmed a travel alert from its Home Office issued on Monday telling airlines to deny Snowden from boarding because “the individual is highly likely to be refused entry to the UK.”

Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who traveled to Hong Kong before the programs were made public, revealed on Sunday that he was behind leaked information describing the American government’s surveillance efforts.

Various airlines in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore confirmed the alert, according to the AP, which said it learned of the British letter to airlines from a photograph of the request seen at an airport in Thailand.

A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Airport Authority said it has not received any notice from British authorities requesting that airlines block Snowden.

Snowden has said he plans to stay in Hong Kong to fight any effort to bring him back to the United States to face charges.

A spokesman for Britain’s Home Office declined to comment on the AP report as did a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron. U.S. officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd declined to confirm the British request or the AP report, saying it was “inappropriate” to discuss government communications. Other airlines could not be immediately reached or had no immediate comment.

The British alert was issued by the UK Border Agency’s Risk and Liaison Overseas Network, the AP report said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Additional reporting by Clare Baldwin in Hong Kong and Guy Faulconbridge and Jason Neely in London; Editing by Will Dunham)

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