Snowden asks 19 more countries for asylum
But leaker’s chances of finding a way out of Moscow airport are grim as leaders shun him
US national security Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has applied to 19 countries for asylum.
But his chances of success are fading after officials in Europe, South America and Asia indicated they would not take him in.
Snowden is wanted by the United States to face trial on espionage charges after he leaked classified documents about the National Security Agency's cybersnooping programmes. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in jail.
China is among the 19 new countries to which Snowden has applied for asylum, in addition to Ecuador and Iceland, according to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was aware of the latest development, but had no information about it.
Snowden has also pinned hopes on Venezuela, whose president, Nicolas Maduro, was in Moscow yesterday praising his leaks on US surveillance programmes while addressing coyly his chances of asylum in Caracas.
"We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favour to humanity, has spoken great truths to deconstruct a world ... that is controlled by an imperialist American elite," Maduro said.
Maduro gave no indication about whether his application for asylum would be accepted, adding that he would not use his plane to ferry Snowden to Caracas.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa appeared to back away from previous statements that his country would help the former CIA analyst, telling The Guardian his country's involvement was "a mistake".
This came despite reports that Snowden had written to Correa thanking him for his support and describing his country as "an example to the world" in defending human rights.
Russia dropped off the list of countries that might take Snowden in. He withdrew his request after President Vladimir Putin said asylum would be granted only if he stopped leaking secrets.
Putin has previously said Russia would not send Snowden back to the United States.
India confirmed yesterday it had refused Snowden's application after careful consideration. It was never likely to have agreed to take him in, given Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid recently defended Washington's surveillance of phone and internet data.
Officials from Finland, Norway and Austria confirmed Snowden had applied for asylum through their Moscow embassies but said a request could only be assessed if he was actually in their country.
Brazil rejected Snowden's request yesterday.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that Warsaw had received Snowden's application, but that it had failed to meet requirements.
"Even if it did, I will not give a positive recommendation," Sikorski wrote on Twitter.
France, Germany and Italy have emerged as possible destinations for Snowden after The Guardian on Saturday revealed widespread US spying on European countries.
Other than China and Russia, all the countries approached by Snowden have extradition treaties with the US.
A Beijing academic called Snowden's moves a strategic play to stay in the spotlight.
"By involving so many countries, he hopes to keep the topic in the news," said Jia Qingguo , an expert in international relations at Peking University.
He said some countries on the list were unlikely to offer Snowden protection because "not only will it damage their relations with the US, but also undermine their own authority because Snowden is seeking asylum after revealing classified information, which is illegal".
Reuters, Agence France-Presse
Countries Edward Snowden has reportedly newly sought asylum in, and the status of the applications, where known
Austria must first enter country
Brazil rejected or withdrawn
Finland must first enter country
Germany must first enter country
India rejected or withdrawn
Ireland must first enter country
The Netherlands unknown
Norway must first enter country
Poland has signalled rejection
Russia rejected or withdrawn
Spain must first enter country
Switzerland must first enter country