July 26, 2013 1:14:27 am
Fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden Thursday awaited permission to leave the Moscow airport where he has been stuck for over a month,as the United States stepped up pressure on Russia to send him back home.
State media indicated Wednesday that the authorities were preparing to let Snowden leave the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport but then in mysterious circumstances he failed to emerge.
Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia and is now awaiting a document that would allow him to formally cross the border and move freely in Russia while his application is being considered a prospect the United States has said would be deeply disappointing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry about Snowdens case Wednesday but it was not clear if their discussion had an impact on the fugitives fate.
Washington wants to put the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor on trial for revealing details of vast US surveillance programmes,but Moscow has rejected demands to hand him over.
The US ambassador to Russia Thursday reiterated that Washington wants Moscow to hand over Snowden,despite the absence of an extradition agreement between the two countries.
The US is not asking for extradition,but simply the return of Mr Snowden. We have sent many people back to Russia, ambassador Michael McFaul wrote on Twitter.
U.S. lawmakers want sanctions on any country taking in Snowden
Washington: A US Senate panel voted unanimously Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to Edward Snowden. The 30-member Senate Appropriations Committee adopted by consensus an amendment to a spending bill that would direct Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with congressional committees to come up with sanctions against any country that takes Snowden in. Bolivia,Nicaragua and Venezuela have said they could offer sanctuary to Snowden. Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said he introduced the amendment to try to get the attention of any country that might take in Snowden,not Russia in particular. Reuters
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