Edward Snowden has withdrawn his Russian asylum request because of the demand that he stop harming US interests by leaking secret documents as countries from Latin America to Europe brushed off his bid for refuge.
Theoretically, Snowden could stay in the Russian federation, but with one condition— that he give up his intention to carry out anti-American actions, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters today.
Snowden, who remains stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after arriving on 23 June from Hong Kong, will not be handed over to the US to face espionage charges because of human-rights concerns, according to Peskov. Putin said yesterday that Snowden must quit hurting US interests if he wants to remain in Russia, after the American sought asylum.
Snowden also applied for refuge in 20 other countries, according to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Poland and Germany rejected his asylum bid because it didn’t meet the requirements for political refuge. Ireland and Austria said asylum applications are only considered when made by people inside their territory.
Ecuador President Rafael Correa told the Guardian in an interview published today that his country isn’t considering Snowden’s request and said it was a mistake to have granted the fugitive a safe-conduct pass that allowed him to leave Hong Kong for Moscow.
The former worker for government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. has said he was the source of leaks on top-secret US National Security Agency programs that collect phone and Internet data.
The Snowden case has rattled international relations, with US Secretary of State John Kerry last week warning China and Russia of consequences of their actions in spurning US extradition requests. US officials later shifted to a more conciliatory approach, and President Barack Obama said that some useful conversations have been held between the US and Russia to resolve the issue.
European officials protested to the US yesterday on the latest revelation stemming from Snowden’s releases after a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel that the NSA eavesdropped and infiltrated computer networks of the European Union. The report cited classified documents in Snowden’s possession.Bloomberg