Snowden applies for political asylum in Russia

Putin says whistleblower will never be handed over to US

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has  reportedly said if Edward Snowden wanted to remain in Russia, he must “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has reportedly said if Edward Snowden wanted to remain in Russia, he must “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

 

US whistleblower Edward Snowden is reported to have applied for political asylum in Russia.

Reuters said a “Russian immigration source” had provided the information.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has meanwhile said Russia would never hand over Mr Snowden, it has been reported.

Mr Putin said if Mr Snowden wanted to remain in Russia, he must “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”.

He added the former US National Security Agency contractor is not a Russian agent and said Russian security services were not working with him.

He made clear that Mr Snowden was not welcome in Russia, and voiced solidarity with the US over the fugitive former US spy agency contactor.

However, speaking eight days after Mr Snowden arrived at a Moscow airport, where he is believed to remain, Mr Putin repeated that Russia had no intention of handing the American over to the US, which wants him on espionage charges.

For the second time in a week, he said Russian intelligence agencies were not working with Mr Snowden and urged him to leave as soon as possible. “If he wants to go away somewhere and someone will accept him there, by all means,” Mr Putin said.

“If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” Mr Putin told reporters after a gas exporters’ conference in Moscow.

When asked about speculation that Mr Snowden might leave with one of the delegations to the conference, whose guests included the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, Mr Putin said did not know of any such plans.

Some Russians say Mr Putin should grant Mr Snowden asylum, but his remarks suggested the former Soviet KGB officer has little sympathy with the actions of the 30-year-old American, who leaked details of secret US government surveillance programmes.

Meanwhile, a senior Russian security official said Mr Putin and US president Barack Obama have told Russia’s FSB security agency and the FBI respectively to seek a solution to the Snowden dilemma, according to the Russian RIA news agency.

RIA cited Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Mr Putin’s advisory Security Council, as saying it would not be easy for the FBI and FSB to agree over the fate of Mr Snowden, who flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23rd.

Mr Putin had ignored calls to extradite Mr Snowden to face espionage charges in the US. Another Russian official, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, said Mr Putin had as yet not discussed the situation with Mr Obama.

Reuters