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Putin: Snowden will leave Russia at earliest opportunity

Published time: July 15, 2013 15:30
Edited time: July 15, 2013 16:48
President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / 
Aleksey Nikolsky)

President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

NSA-leaker Edward Snowden will leave Russia as soon as he gets such opportunity, but for now the situation is unclear, says Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"He is familiar with the conditions of granting political asylum, and judging by the latest statements, is shifting his position. The situation is not clear now," Putin said. 

The president stressed that the US basically trapped ex-CIA employee Snowden in Russia while he was in transit to other countries.

"He arrived on our territory without an invitation, he was not flying to us - he was flying in transit to other countries. But as soon as he got in the air it became known, and our American partners, in fact, blocked his further flight," Putin said, meaning that the US government revoked Snowden’s passport shortly after he arrived at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. 

"They scared other countries. No one wants to accept him,” he added. 

When asked about what was next for Snowden, Putin replied: “How should I know? That’s his life, his fate.” 

Putin also recalled that Snowden was initially offered an opportunity to apply for asylum in Russia, but only if he stops his “political activity.”

“There are certain relations between Russia and United States, we would not like you to harm them with your activity,” Putin quoted Russian officials during their dialogue with Snowden. “He said no...he said, ‘I want to continue my activity, fighting for human rights. I think the US is violating certain international regulations and intervening in private lives and my goal to fight this.'" 

Putin added that Russia has no desire assist Snowden as long as he refuses to cease such activity. 

Although Snowden said last Friday that he might apply for political asylum in Russia, no application has yet been received by the Russian government.  

“There has been no application from Edward Snowden today,” Konstantin Romadanovsky, director of Russia’s Federal Migration Service, told Interfax. “If an application is received, it will be examined under the established legal procedures.”

The US responded with accusations against Russia, claiming it was granting Snowden – who is wanted on espionage charges - a “propaganda platform.”

Meanwhille, a Swedish sociology professor has praised Snowden for his “heroic effort at great personal cost,” nominating the whistleblower for the Nobel Peace Prize.