Friday 15 December 2017

Russia ‘has not received formal Snowden asylum request’

Edward Snowden has not formally applied for Russia
Edward Snowden has not formally applied for Russia

Chris Irvine

Russia has said Edward Snowden, the fugitive American, has not been in touch and is yet to apply formally for political asylum.

THE US has urged Russia to return Mr Snowden, where he is wanted on espionage charges after disclosing details of secret surveillance programmes. President Barack Obama has spoken to Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, over the issue.

Ahead of the call, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, accused Russia of "providing a propaganda platform" to Mr Snowden.

Mr Snowden broke three weeks of cover at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow on Friday to say he would seek asylum in Russia, seemingly starved of options, namely the ability to travel to Latin America.

"We are not in contact with Snowden", Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said on Saturday.

He said he had learned of Snowden's meeting with Russian human rights activists and public figures at the airport on Friday from the media, "just like everyone else."

Mr Snowden told the activists that he would submit his asylum request the same day.

Mr Lavrov said that under Russian law, asylum seekers must first make an official appeal to the Federal Migration Service. The service is yet to receive such a request.

Mr Snowden has been stranded in the transit zone at the airport since he flew from Hong Kong after outing himself as the man behind the surveillance leaks.

Mr Putin has previously said Mr Snowden should choose a final destination and go there and that he would only accept an asylum plea if he stopped activities "aimed at harming our American partners."

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