Putin: If Snowden Wants Asylum, He Should Stop Leaking Info
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that if Edward Snowden wants asylum in his country, he should stop leaking information about the United States, AFP reported.
On Sunday night, Snowden applied for political asylum at the consulate office of the Sheremetyevo airport, where he had been staying for more than a week in legal limbo, according to the news agency.
"At 10.30 p.m. (1830 GMT) yesterday, British citizen Sarah Harrison turned up at the consulate department at Sheremetyevo airport and submitted a request from Snowden about granting him asylum," consulate officer Kim Shevchenko told AFP.
Sarah Harrison is an employee of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who accompanied Snowden on his June 23 trip from Hong Kong, where the former NSA contractor leaked details of the U.S. surveillance program after leaving his job in Hawaii.
Putin appeared to respond to Snowden's request Monday by saying at a news conference that Snowden, who is wanted in the United States on charges of espionage, must stop leaking information damaging Washington if he wants to stay in Russia.
"Russia never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention to do so," Putin said, according to AFP.
"If he (Snowden) wants to remain here there is one condition -- he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me," Putin added.
But Putin appeared to indicate that was an unlikely scenario.
"Because he feels like a rights activist and defender of human rights all indications are that he is not going to stop this work. So he has to choose a country of residence for himself and move there," he said.
The Russian president reiterated Snowden was not a Moscow agent and was not working with Russian special services.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday confirmed that there were high-level consultations between Moscow and Washington over Snowden's fate.
"We have gone through regular, law enforcement channels in enforcing the extradition request that we have made with respect to Mr. Snowden," he said while on his African visit, reported AFP.
"Mr. Snowden, we understand, has traveled there without a valid passport, without legal papers. We are hopeful that the Russian government makes decisions based on the normal procedures regarding international travel," said Obama.
Putin had previously refused to immediately hand over Snowden to Washington due to the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries.
Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 for a layover on his way to Latin America, possibly Ecuador, in a bid to escape extradition to the United States.
However, Ecuador President Rafael Correa said on Sunday that "the solution of Snowden's destination" was in the hands of Russian authorities.
On Friday, Snowden’s father said in an interview that while he has not had recent contact with his son, he is reasonably confident his son would return to the United States if certain conditions were met.
Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order. He also wants his son to choose where a trial would take place.