Prospects of asylum dim for Snowden
MOSCOW — NSA leaker Edward Snowden's prospects for political asylum abroad narrowed rapidly Tuesday when he withdrew his request to Russia, and almost half of the 21 countries on his request list have turned him down.
The developments involving Snowden continued globally. The former contractor abandoned his request for asylum in Russia when President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he must stop his anti-American activity.
Russian news agencies quoted Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Snowden, unhappy with the conditions Russia has set, had taken back his application to Moscow.
“It's true, Snowden did express a request to remain in Russia. But having found out yesterday about Russia's position, voiced by President Putin, about the conditions for theoretically doing so, he rejected his intention and request to stay in Russia,” RIA Novosti quoted Peskov as saying.
Putin said Monday that Snowden would have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted to be granted asylum in Russia, where Snowden has been hiding out for eight days since his arrival from Hong Kong. Putin said that while Moscow “never hands over anybody anywhere,” Snowden needed to stop harming Russia's “American partners.”
Peskov added Tuesday that “handing over Snowden to a country like the U.S., where the death penalty can be applied, is not possible.”
Snowden fled to the Chinese territory of Hong Kong in May with top-secret documents and court orders on government surveillance operations. He signaled his intention to leak more of those documents at a later date.
The U.S. government has revoked his passport and issued an arrest warrant on charges of violating the federal Espionage Act.
From Snowden's initial list of 21 countries, at least 10 have either turned him down flatly or said his request was invalid because he was not physically on their territory.
Snowden broke almost a week of silence on Monday by issuing a statement on the WikiLeaks website that said his “continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will.”
That was followed Tuesday by a statement detailing the number of countries, in addition to Russia, to which he had applied for asylum: Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.
Brazil and India have turned him down. Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland said a request would be invalid because it was not made from their own territory.