2 Jul 2013

Asylum options shrink for whistleblower Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden has withdrawn his request for political asylum from Russia despite a growing number of countries rejecting his pleas for safe haven.

An employee distributes newspapers, with a photograph (R) of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden

Whistleblower Mr Snowden is said to be in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and had not crossed through passport control onto Russian territory.

Mr Snowden has withdrawn a request for political asylum in Russia after president Vladimir Putin said he should stop “harming our American partners”, the Kremlin has said.

Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said: “Hypothetically Snowden could stay in the Russian Federation but on one condition – that he give up any intention to engage in any form of anti-American activities, activities that are harmful to the United States.”

He said Mr Snowden showed no sign of doing this and added: “After learning of Russian’s position yesterday, voiced by President Putin… he abandoned his intention (of staying) and his request to be able to stay in Russia.”

Snowden ‘broadens asylum requests’

WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group, has said that Mr Snowden had prepared requests for asylum in countries including India, China, Brazil, Ireland, Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.

However, a growing number of countries today rejected his pleads.

Norway said Mr Snowden was unlikely to get asylum there, and Poland said it would not give a “positive recommendation” to any request.

Finland said it could not accept his request as Finnish law required him to be in the country. France, Iceland and Italy said they had not received any formal request for asylum.

India have also said that they refused a request from Mr Snowden on 30 June.

Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said on Twitter: “Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request.”

Earlier Venezuelan President Maduro, who is in Moscow said Mr Snowden deserved the “world’s protection” for divulging details of Washington’s spy programme.

He said: “He has not asked us for it [asylum] yet. When he does we will give our answer.”

Spain have also said that any application would be invalid since he is not on Spanish soil.

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo: “For an asylum petition to become a petition that the government could study, in other words for it to be legally admissible, it has to be made by a person who is in Spain.”

Earlier WikiLeaks posted a statement said to be from the former spy that accuses US President Barack Obama for “leaving him a stateless person.”

Mr Snowden said: “Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport.

“Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

“Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.”