Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied for political asylum in Russia, a Russian immigration source close to the matter said on Monday. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a Wikileaks activist who is traveling with Snowden handed his application to a Russian consulate in the transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday.
“At 10.30pm yesterday (Sunday), British citizen Sarah Harrison turned up at the consulate department at Sheremetyevo airport and submitted a request from Snowden about granting him asylum,” a consular officer at Sheremetyevo airport, Kim Shevchenko, told reporters. Sarah Harrison is an employee of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who accompanied Snowden on his trip from Hong Kong.
President Vladimir Putin made starkly clear on Monday that Edward Snowden was not welcome in Russia, and voiced solidarity with the United States over the fugitive former US spy agency contactor.
However, speaking eight days after Snowden arrived at a Moscow airport where he is believed to remain, Putin repeated that Russia had no intention of handing the American over to the United States, which wants him on espionage charges.
For the second time in a week, he said Russian intelligence agencies were not working with Snowden and urged him to leave as soon as possible. “If he wants to go away somewhere and someone will accept him there, by all means,” Putin said.
“If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” Putin told reporters after a gas exporters’ conference in Moscow.
When asked about speculation that Snowden might leave with one of the delegations to the conference, whose guests included the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, Putin said did not know of any such plans.
Some Russians say Putin should grant Snowden asylum, but his remarks suggested the former Soviet KGB officer has little sympathy with the actions of the 30-year-old American who leaked details of secret US government surveillance programmes.