Denmark authorised a US jet to wait at Copenhagen's airport in 2013 in case US whistleblower Edward Snowden landed there after fleeing to Moscow, Denmark's justice minister said in a statement made public today.
Questioned in parliament on Wednesday amid growing speculation over the US jet's intentions, Justice Minister Soren Pind told lawmakers that the Danish government had authorised the plane to land at Copenhagen airport but he stopped short of explaining the aircraft's presence.
A day later, he issued a written statement to legislators clarifying that "the reason for the jet's presence at Copenhagen airport was presumably to have the possibility to transport Edward Snowden to the United States, if he were to be extradited from Russia or another country."
Pind stressed that information of this nature was normally confidential, but that he had chosen to inform lawmakers because of the strong reactions elicited by his initial remarks on Wednesday.
Reacting to the disclosure, Snowden on Friday tweeted that it "seems to confirm Denmark intended to violate principle of non-refoulement as I sought asylum".
According to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, the principle of non-refoulement stipulates that "no one shall expel or return ('refouler') a refugee against his or her will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears threats to life or freedom."
Snowden, 32, has been living in exile in Russia since June 2013, after stealing electronic documents from the US National Security Agency that revealed its secret surveillance programmes.
The US government has charged him with espionage and theft of government property, crimes for which he could be imprisoned for 30 years if found guilty.