Conflicting reports on Snowden's Russian asylum claim
MOSCOW, July 1 (RAPSI) - Edward Snowden, who is being sought by the United States after leaking classified documents on the activities of US intelligence agencies, did not apply for the political asylum in Russia, RIA Novosti reported Monday citing a representative of the Federal Migration Service.
Minutes after Russia’s migration authorities dismissed as “untrue” media reports about a request for asylum filed by fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, a diplomat confirmed that a Russian consulate had received it.
“ At 22:30 Moscow time [18:30 GMT] yesterday [on Sunday], UK citizen Sarah Harrison addressed the consulate in the Sheremetyevo Airport with a request on behalf of Edward Snowden to grant him political asylum,” said Kim Shevchenko, the consulate’s diplomat on duty.It was the New York Times which had first reported with reference to its own unidentified source that Snowden had filed a request with Russian officials seeking asylum last Sunday with the help of WikiLeaks representative Sara Harrison.
The whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks openly supported Snowden when he released classified information about the US government's secret surveillance programs.
Snowden is reportedly holed up in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport waiting for the Ecuadorean government to respond to his request for asylum.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier that Snowden's arrival came as a surprise. He added that Russian intelligence services have never worked with the whistleblower. Speaking at a Moscow press conference Monday, Putin once again asserted the idea and said that Snowden may remain in Russia only if he stops “defying our American partners”.
Snowden dominated international headlines this month after claiming responsibility for leaking top secret documents to The Guardian, detailing the National Security Agency's (NSA) capacity to access the systems of major US companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple. Google, Facebook, and Apple have all denied providing direct or backdoor access to their servers.
After the initial leak, Snowden went on to expose various other types of intelligence, including claims to The Guardian that the NSA had intercepted communications from Medvedev's delegation during the 2009 G20 summit in London, as well as claims during an interview with the South China Morning Post that the United States had been hacking into Chinese computers for years.
On June 14, the US authorities filed a criminal complaint advancing three charges, each carrying a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. He has been charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and the willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person, according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors.