An Irish High Court judge has refused an application from the US embassy for an arrest warrant for on-the-run former CIA contractor Edward Snowden.
Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said he was compelled to reject the application for a provisional arrest warrant on a technicality – because it did not state where the alleged offences happened.
Snowden faces charges in the US for disclosing details of the US government’s covert internet and phone surveillance programmes, such as the National Security Agency (NSA)’s alleged PRISM programme, said to have monitored the servers of internet giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.
The US embassy in Dublin submitted the application for a provisional arrest warrant to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
Snowden is being charged with unauthorised disclosure of national defence information, the unauthorised disclosure of communications intelligence and theft of US government property.
Ireland’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the ruling does not prevent a fresh application for an arrest warrant for Snowden.
Snowden is currently holed up at an airport hotel in Moscow, hoping to broker an asylum deal.
Last week, the governments of Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela said they would be willing to grant Snowden asylum.
In total, Snowden has applied for asylum in 27 countries. Ireland will not consider such a request unless it was made on Irish soil.
Mac Eochaidh said that the question of where the alleged offences took place is not a minor detail but a matter that could have serious consequences in the later stages of an extradition process.