WikiLeaks Airlines Is Now Boarding

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 ...

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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.

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.

Twitter: @EliasGroll

More from Foreign Policy

A photo illustration shows Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden posing on pedestals atop the bipolar world order, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Russian President Vladamir Putin standing below on a gridded floor.
A photo illustration shows Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden posing on pedestals atop the bipolar world order, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Russian President Vladamir Putin standing below on a gridded floor.

No, the World Is Not Multipolar

The idea of emerging power centers is popular but wrong—and could lead to serious policy mistakes.

A view from the cockpit shows backlit control panels and two pilots inside a KC-130J aerial refueler en route from Williamtown to Darwin as the sun sets on the horizon.
A view from the cockpit shows backlit control panels and two pilots inside a KC-130J aerial refueler en route from Williamtown to Darwin as the sun sets on the horizon.

America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want

Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.

The Chinese flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on Feb. 4, 2022.
The Chinese flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on Feb. 4, 2022.

America Can’t Stop China’s Rise

And it should stop trying.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior a meeting with European Union leaders in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior a meeting with European Union leaders in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022.

The Morality of Ukraine’s War Is Very Murky

The ethical calculations are less clear than you might think.