In a turn of events, Russian President Vladimir Putin has come out defending the US in the Edward Snowden asylum saga.
Putin upset the White House when it was known that the former NSA contractor had flown to Moscow and was holed up at the airport while his asylum request to Ecuador was processed.
Government spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday that Snowden has withdrawn his bid for asylum in Russia in light of President Putin’s remarks.
On Monday Putin said that Snowden could stay in Russia under one condition,
“He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” he told reporters in Moscow. “He must choose a country of destination and go there. Unfortunately, I don’t know when this will happen.”
Putin’s spokesman, told Reuters that Snowden was in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and had not passed through the passport check point and into Russian soil.
Snowden traveled to Moscow eight days ago after leaving Hong Kong to escape espionage charges awaiting him in the US.
Putin made clear that Russia is not working with Snowden, however they will not extradite him back to the US.
On Tuesday, Russia contradicted a Wikileaks report, that said Snowden had applied for asylum in 21 countries, clarifying that he has only done so in 15.
The US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia and President Obama observed that Snowden traveled without legal papers.
“We are hopeful that the Russian government makes decisions based on the normal procedures regarding international travel and the normal interactions that law enforcement have,” Obama said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry brought up Snowden’s case in talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at the Asean summit in Brunei.
Snowden spoke out in a statement released through Wikileaks stating that the Obama administration is using citizenship as a weapon to prevent him from seeking asylum.
What do you think of Putin’s statements regarding Snowden’s asylum request?
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