WikiLeaks is determined to make itself a part of the Edward Snowden affair. So much so that the businessman who handles donations to the site now claims he has a chartered plane ready to fly the NSA leaker to Iceland, where he has said he would like to seek asylum.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed that his legal team in Iceland had been serving as an intermediary between Snowden and the government. But in an email to BuzzFeed, Glenn Greenwald, one of the Guardian reporters to whom Snowden has been leaking NSA documents, said that while WikiLeaks had offered to assist Snowden, no such arrangement was in place. A spokesperson for the Icelandic embassy in Washington told the New York Times that WikiLeaks had contacted the government but would not comment further.
The man behind the scheme to hire a chartered plane to ferry Snowden to Iceland is Olafur Sigurvinsson, the CEO of DataCell, the company that processes donations to WikiLeaks. Sigurvinsson claims that the plane was chartered with $240,000 in contributions, that it belongs to a Chinese firm, and that it is ready to go at a few hours’ notice.
Meanwhile, the Icelandic government sounds, shall we say, less than excited to have Snowden arrive on their shores. Earlier this week, Interior Minister Hanna Kristjansdottir said that her government didn’t consider itself bound by a 2010 law that pledges safe haven for whistleblowers and journalists, and throughout the uproar over Snowden, Icelandic authorities have emphasized that Snowden has to be in the country to apply for asylum.
Regardless of whether Snowden decides to take up WikiLeaks’ offer of a free ride to Iceland, the idea that he would gain asylum there is far from certain. "We have really done all we can do. We have a plane and all the logistics in place. Now we are only awaiting a response from the [Icelandic] government," Sigurvinsson told Agence France-Presse. "It would be stupid to come here only to be extradited to the United States," he added. Though Iceland has a history of supporting Internet freedom — Assange cut the video for his first major leak, "Collateral Murder," while in Iceland — but the current center-right government has said nothing to indicate that it would welcome Snowden with open arms.
The rest of us can only wait and hope that the too-good-to-be-true idea of a WikiLeaks airline isn’t dead on arrival.