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Edward Snowden's asylum options narrow
July 2, 2013 at 7:53 AM

2 July 2013 Last updated at 07:13 ET  

Edward Snowden's asylum options narrow

US spy leaks

Fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has suffered a setback in his attempts to avoid extradition to the US, as a number of countries have rejected his requests for asylum.

Eight European states including Spain and Germany said asylum applicants had to be on their soil.

India has also said no.

Mr. Snowden, who is at Moscow airport, sent requests to 21 countries in total, Wikileaks said, but he later withdrew a request to Russia.

A Kremlin spokesman said his decision came after Russian President Vladimir Putin set conditions for him staying.

The former intelligence systems analyst is wanted by the US on charges of leaking secrets.

He accuses US President Barack Obama of putting pressure on the countries to which he has applied for asylum.

Meanwhile French President Francois Hollande called for the European Union to take a common stand over allegations by Mr. Snowden that Washington is spying on its European allies.

Vladimir Putin's warning to Mr. Snowden that he should stop "harming our American partners" is indicative of a significant shifting of gear. Russia now has ownership of the Snowden affair. What happens to Mr. Snowden will depend upon Russia's calculations and what serves Russia's interests.

The authorities in Moscow could have moved Mr. Snowden on quickly, joining the diplomatic game of pass-the-parcel that began in Hong Kong. But the longer the errant US intelligence analyst stays in limbo at the Moscow airport, so the more Russia has become a central actor in this drama.

Russia must balance a range of factors in seeking to determine Mr. Snowden's fate - the risk of a serious rift with Washington and Russia's own standing as an international actor that upholds the legal order must be set against the strong vein of sympathy for Mr. Snowden amongst Russian public opinion.

'Not allowed'

The Wikileaks press release said that most of the asylum requests - including to Russia itself - were handed to the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday for delivery to the relevant embassies in Moscow.

But responses came in on Monday morning.

"Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said on Twitter.

Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland said his request was invalid because it was not made from their own territory.

"Delivering an application for asylum from abroad is in principle not allowed," Norwegian deputy justice secretary Paal Loenseth told the country's state TV.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski said it would have been rejected even if it was valid.

"We received a document that does not meet the requirements for a formal application for asylum," he wrote on his Twitter account.

"Even if it did, I would not give a positive recommendation."

Meanwhile Mr. Hollande denied that France had received a specific asylum request from Mr. Snowden.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is on a visit to Moscow, said the same, but added that Mr. Snowden had "done something very important for humanity" and "deserved the world's protection".

"The world's conscience should react, the world youth should react, the decent people who want a peaceful world should react, everyone should react and find solidarity with this young man who has denounced and altered the world that they [the US] pretend to control," he told the BBC.

Asylum requests

  • Rejected: Austria, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland
  • Withdrawn: Russia
  • Pending: Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua
  • Unconfirmed: France, Venezuela

Transit limbo

Meanwhile Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr. Snowden had withdrawn the application to Russia because Moscow had said he should give up "anti-American activity".

"After learning of Russia's position yesterday, voiced by President Putin ... he abandoned his intention [of staying] and his request to be able to stay in Russia," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said that while Moscow "never hands over anybody anywhere", Mr. Snowden could only stay on condition that he stopped damaging Russia's "American partners" with his leaks.

Mr. Snowden has reportedly been in the transit area of Sheremetyevo since arriving there from Hong Kong on 23 June.

Mr. Peskov confirmed he was still there and had not crossed into Russian territory, adding that the former analyst had never been a Russian agent and had never worked with its intelligence services.

Mr. Snowden had previously submitted an application to Ecuador, whose embassy in London is sheltering Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and to Iceland.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa told the Agence France-Presse news agency on Monday that his country would process Mr. Snowden's asylum request if he managed to enter an Ecuadorean embassy.

However, if he can complete his asylum request on Russian territory , then "the situation can be processed and resolved there," President Correa added.

Details have also emerged of a letter from Mr. Snowden to President Correa, thanking Ecuador for guaranteeing "my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong - I could never have risked travel without that".

Mr. Snowden describes himself as "a stateless person", accusing the US government of stopping him from exercising the "basic seek asylum".

The leaking of thousands of classified intelligence documents has led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data. 


  • punky3175
    July 2, 2013 at 7:54 AM

     I tried to put the below in the OP but it was too long so here are my comments:

    This makes me smile. :D As to the part in red, what did he expect?  The US to just say "Go where ever you wish.  We won't threaten political fallout even though you are damaging our reputation and security across the globe"?

    As to the part in green - definitely not what I would have expected coming from Russia, but I'm impressed. 

    Mr. Snowden's time is limited.  He really didn't think this all through very well. 

  • Aslen
    by Aslen
    July 2, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    He ought to be tried for treason, instead of just espionage
  • stormcris
    July 2, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    I am watching to see this play out and phase out.

  • rfurlongg
    July 2, 2013 at 8:02 AM

     Of course Obama is putting pressure on other nations to not accept Snowden. Did he really expect otherwise? If he was truly a savvy person, he would  have had his documents in order, flow to Paraguay THEN released the information.


    While my opinion of the release of the info is still unformed, my opinion of Snowden himself is waning.

  • emeraldangel20
    July 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM
    what did the idiot expect? I'm not aiming to be all kumbaya with the jerk
  • AdrianneHill
    July 2, 2013 at 11:01 AM
    Funny how this guy isn't getting the wretched press the soldier got and this guy actively wants to continue harming American interests after his asylum is granted wherever
  • punky3175
    July 2, 2013 at 11:04 AM
    That's a really good point. I hadn't really compared the two.

    Quoting AdrianneHill:

    Funny how this guy isn't getting the wretched press the soldier got and this guy actively wants to continue harming American interests after his asylum is granted wherever
  • JoshRachelsMAMA
    July 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM
    Why not Cuba?
  • mikiemom
    July 2, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    I'm glad to hear that he is in the cold with limited options. Any country needs to think long and hard about the consequences especially in light to the Russian conditions put in place, any country that takes him will be pissing off the two biggest meanest dogs on the block.

  • punky3175
    July 2, 2013 at 12:58 PM
    I haven't actually been following it that closely but saw this headline and went 'well duh!' Then had to share here. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. And how long it'll take the US to actually get him.

    Quoting stormcris:

    I am watching to see this play out and phase out.

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