Ireland has denied the United States an arrest warrant for whistleblower Edward Snowden in case he lands in the country, it has been revealed.
The High Court in Dublin ruled that Washington DC security chiefs failed to show where alleged crimes had been committed by the former intelligence contractor.
The US applied for a provisional arrest warrant on Friday through its Ballsbridge embassy. Officials made the move after former spy Mr Snowden contacted 21 countries including Ireland seeking asylum.
There were concerns the fugitive intelligence officer, who has been living in the transit section of Moscow's Sheremetyevo-2 airport, would pass through Shannon airport en route to South America. A request for asylum in Ireland can only be considered if Snowden makes an application on arrival in the country.
Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh refused the request for an arrest warrant on the grounds that no information had been given by the US authorities about where the alleged offences took place. The ruling also stated that the decision was taken because the US failed to show where the theft of government property took place or what had been stolen.
Judge Mac Eochaidh said offences may relate to theft of information and its misuse rather than to physical property but that assumptions could not be made that it took place in Hawaii.
Former NSA analyst Mr Snowden has requested asylum across the globe, in Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela. He is wanted for leaking details of secret surveillance operations in the UK and US and has been in limbo since his arrival in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23. Russia's president Vladimir Putin said Mr Snowden would have to stop leaking US secrets if he wanted to get asylum there.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said there is nothing to prevent the US making a second application to the courts in Dublin on Mr Snowden. He said: "The determination of the court does not in any way prevent a fresh application being made for a provisional arrest warrant, taking into account the findings of the court."
Mr Shatter said Irish and US authorities have remained in close contact about the former intelligence contractor's status and he said that the Irish Government will take any action open to it to ensure that its obligations regarding extradition are met.
He said: "It should be noted that what the court in its judgment today addressed was the issuing of an arrest warrant on the basis of specific information, rather than a determination as to whether an individual should or should not be extradited."