The case of Edward Snowden has not been discussed in this blog until now because INTERPOL is reportedly not involved in Mr. Snowden’s case, and no Red Notice exists in his name.  The case does, however, provide an interesting opportunity to address how the relationships between multiple countries can affect a wanted person’s ability to travel.

The United States has received extraordinary levels of cooperation from its allies in an effort to make Mr. Snowden’s travel via air almost impossible, with Austria going so far as to force Bolivian president Evo Morales’ jet to land in Austria while flying over its airspace.

Mr. Snowden reportedly plans to seek political asylum in one of the countries that has offered that relief to him- Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua-but he has not been able to leave the Moscow airport because most travel routes to any of those countries requires flight over either the United States or its allies.

Mr. Snowden has now turned to at least two internationally renowned human rights organizations for possible assistance.  He has reportedly asked for meetings with Transparency International and Amnesty International.  Both organizations are reported to have accepted his invitation to meet.  Last week, the organization strongly condemned the United States’ actions against Mr. Snowden, characterizing U.S. efforts as “deplorable.”

The request for assistance from human rights organizations is based, according to a written statement by Mr. Snowden, on the United States’ frustration of Mr. Snowden’s asylum seeking efforts:

“In recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the U.S. overnment to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Snowden wrote.

While Mr. Snowden’s case is extreme in terms of publicity, it is not unusual for countries to work together in diplomatic efforts to return a wanted person to the requesting country.  All of the countries that have worked in support of the United States are also member countries of INTERPOL, but their efforts have arisen from their diplomatic relations, not from their INTERPOL membership.  Although INTERPOL’s assistance is often very useful and often triggers extradition proceedings, Mr. Snowden’s case makes it clear that it is not critical to extradition, particularly when a wanted person’s whereabouts are thought to be known.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.