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article imageEdward Snowden asks Russia for political asylum

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jul 1, 2013 in World
The Russian Interfax news agency reports that Russian authorities have said that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has asked for politician asylum in Russia.
AP reports that Interfax quoted Kim Shevchenko, the duty officer at the Russian Foreign Ministry's consular office in Moscow's Sheremtyevo airport, saying that Snowden's handler, Sarah Harrison, a WikiLeaks activist, delivered the request at the consulate in Terminal F of the Sheremetyevo Russian authorities late on Sunday.
According to the Guardian, Snowden submitted his application at 10.30 p.m., after which Shevchenko announced: "The UK citizen Sarah Harrison passed on a request by Edward Snowden to be granted political asylum. "
He, however, declined to say where Harrison and Snowden were staying. He said: "She didn't say and I didn't ask,"
Digital Journal reports the two have not been seen since they arrived in Russia.
The Russian Interfax news agency reported Russia's President Vladimir Putin said at a Monday news conference, after Snowden submitted his request for asylum, that Snowden would have to stop publishing classified US documents if he wants Russia to grant him asylum.
The New York Times reports that Putin made it clear that the Russian government would not consider extraditing Snowden to the US. He said: "Russia never gives up anyone to anybody and is not planning to."
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said the US has been having high-level talks with the Russians over extraditing Snowden. Although Russia has made it clear that it will not yield to US pressure, Putin's statements suggests that the Russian authorities are anxious to avoid hurting already strained relations with the US.
According to AP, Putin said at the news conference: "If he wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do so. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound coming from my lips."
He, however, said that it seemed that Snowden was intent on making further disclosures, which would seem to preclude the Russians allowing him to stay. Putin said: "Snowden doesn't want to stop his efforts to reveal information about the U.S. surveillance program likely because he considers himself a rights activist. Just Because he sees himself as a human rights activist and a freedom fighter for people’s rights, apparently he is not intending to cease this work. So he must choose for himself a country to go to and where to move. When that will happen, I unfortunately don’t know."
However, Shevchenko said that Russia has not responded to Snowden's application. AP reports that Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, declined to say when the Russian response would come.
Vladimir P. Lukin, Russia's human rights commissioner, said it may take a month for the Russian Foreign Ministry to give an answer, according to the New York Times.
Putin went out his way at the news conference to say that Snowden was not a Russian agent. He said: "He’s not our agent and hasn't cooperated with us. I’m saying with all responsibility that he’s not cooperating with us even now, and we aren't working with him."
Snowden's options have narrowed with the Ecuadorians having apparently developed cold feet about taking him. Ecuador changed its mind about accepting Snowden after US brought pressure to bear, Digital Journal reports.
According to the New York Times, a US foreign ministry official said that Snowden has appealed to 15 countries for asylum. According to the official, Snowden asked Russia for asylum as a "desperate" move after Ecuador turned him down.
AP reports that the Kremlin's media mouthpiece, the Russian newspaper Izvestia, said Monday that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, attending a summit of gas exporters in Moscow, might take Snowden back home with him. How far the speculation is based on facts is uncertain, but Izvestia, citing a Kremlin source, said Putin plans to talk to Maduro about it when they meet on Tuesday. But Putin said at the news conference that he was not certain if any of countries at the summit would be willing to take the fugitive.
According to AP sources, the US government has been making efforts to discourage Maduro from accepting Snowden.
Digital Journal reported that the Venezuelan President had stated that his country was considering asylum for the former CIA agent. During a visit to Haiti, Maduro reportedly said: "We would consider it, because the asylum is a measure of humanitarian protection and is a mechanism of the international humanitarian law, which is popular in Latin America and was always used to protect helpless." He added: "No one has the right to spy after someone else and this youngster [Snowden], who told the world about it, deserves humanitarian protection."
AP reports that its sources say that the US authorities are pursuing the strategy of getting Russia to send him to a country that will hand him over to the US.
Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow, posted on Wikileaks site
Monday July 1, 21:40 UTC
One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.
For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.
I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.
— Edward Joseph Snowden
Monday 1st July 2013
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