London: Britain has asked airlines worldwide to block American Edward Snowden, who leaked details of US government telephone and internet surveillance programmes from boarding any plane headed for the United Kingdom.
The report 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 US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who travelled to Hong Kong before the programmes 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. US 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.
Meanwhile, the United States is confident it will bring Snowden to justice for “extremely damaging” leaks about secret internet surveillance programmes, US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday.
Snowden is hiding in Hong Kong and the United States has launched a criminal investigation after the former CIA technical assistant blew the lid on the National Security Agency’s vast electronic surveillance operation.
“This case is still under investigation and I can assure you that we will hold accountable the person responsible for those extremely damaging leaks,” Holder told a news conference in Dublin after a meeting with EU officials.
“The national security of the United States has been damaged by those leaks. The safety of the American people and safety of people in allied nations is at risk,” he said.
“I am confident that the person who is responsible will be held accountable.”
Holder also said that he had agreed to share details with the European Union about the so-called PRISM programme, which was exposed after Snowden spoke to British and American newspapers.
The 29-year-old Snowden has vowed to fight any bid to extradite him.