ANDREW ROTH & ELLEN BARRY
President Vladimir V Putin on Monday said Edward J Snowden,the former national security staffer accused of espionage,would not receive political asylum in Russia unless he stopped publishing classified documents that hurt the interests of the United States.
At a news meet here,Putin said since it appeared Snowden was going to continue publishing leaks,his chances of staying in Russia were slim. Putin also pushed back against efforts by the United States to persuade the Russian government to extradite Snowden,making it clear that Russia would not comply.
Russia never gives up anyone to anybody and is not planning to, Putin said.
Snowden applied for political asylum in Russia late on Sunday night,according to Kim Shevchenko,an official at the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo Airport here. Shevchenko said Sarah Harrison,a WikiLeaks activist who is traveling with Snowden,hand-delivered his request to the consulate in Terminal F of the airport.
Eight days ago,Snowden arrived on an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong,apparently intending to board a connecting flight to Latin America. Since then,Snowden and Harrison have become caught in a geopolitical limbo,since Snowdens American passport has been revoked and he has been unable to leave the transit zone.
With Ecuador,his original destination,evidently wavering,Snowdens options seem to have narrowed,and his stopover at Sheremetyevo Airport now threatens to stretch into weeks. Putin referred to this uncertainty on Monday.
If he wants to go somewhere and they accept him,please,be my guest, he said. If he wants to stay here,there is one condition: He must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners,as strange as it may sound from my lips.
But Putin also noted that Snowden seemed intent on continuing to publish classified documents that damage the United States.
Because he sees himself as a human rights activist and a freedom fighter for peoples rights,apparently he is not intending to cease this work, Putin said. So he must choose for himself a country to go to and where to move. When that will happen,I unfortunately dont know.
A Foreign Ministry official told The Los Angeles Times Monday that Snowden had appealed to 15 countries for political asylum,handing over the paperwork at a Monday morning meeting at the airport.