DUBLIN (AFP) - Ireland's High Court on Monday refused a bid by the United States to obtain an arrest warrant for the fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden in case he lands on Irish soil.
Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said he was "compelled" to reject the request, made by the US embassy in Dublin on Friday, because it did not state where Snowden's alleged offences were committed.
"The question of where the offence took place is not a minor detail but is a matter which could have very serious consequences in any further stage that might be reached in an extradition process," the judge wrote.
Snowden began his third week in limbo at a Moscow airport on Monday, hoping to reach an asylum deal so he can escape charges in the US for leaking explosive details about a massive electronic surveillance programme.
Cuba on Sunday became the latest country to offer a possible lifeline after President Raul Castro expressed support for Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which have all offered asylum.
Snowden, 30, has applied for asylum in 27 countries including Ireland, which said it could not consider the request unless it was made on Irish soil.
Irish justice minister Alan Shatter said the US authorities were welcome to reapply for an arrest warrant stating where Snowden committed his alleged crimes.
"The determination of the court does not in any way prevent a fresh application being made for a provisional arrest warrant," he said.
"The Irish and US authorities have remained in close contact about this matter and, for its part, the government will take any action open to it to ensure that the state's obligations in relation to extradition arrangements are met."
The High Court judgement said the US authorities did not made clear in the request whether they believed Snowden leaked the information to journalists from US territory, or after he fled.