Russia says no asylum request yet from fugitive Snowden

Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden speaks to human rights representatives in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Credit: Reuters
Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden speaks to human rights representatives in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Credit: Reuters

Russia kept former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden at arm’s length on Saturday, saying it had not been in touch with the fugitive American and had not yet received a formal request for political asylum.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled Russia is weighing its options after Snowden, who is stranded at a Moscow airport, broke three weeks of silence and asked for refuge in Russia until he can secure safe passage to Latin America.

Washington urged Moscow to return Snowden to the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges after revealing details of secret surveillance programs, and President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Snowden’s leaks about U.S. spy methods, including eavesdropping on global email traffic, have upset Washington’s friends and foes alike. Stuck at Sheremetyevo airport with his passport revoked, he has become an irritant in relations between the United States and Russia.

“We are not in contact with Snowden,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying in Kyrgyzstan, where he attended a foreign ministers’ meeting.

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.”

Snowden, who had previously kept out of sight since arriving in the airport’s transit zone on June 23, told the activists that he would submit his asylum request the same day.

Lavrov said that under Russian law, asylum seekers must first make an official appeal to the Federal Migration Service. But its director, Konstantin Romodanovsky, said on Saturday the agency had not yet received such a request from Snowden.

Snowden, who worked at a National Security Agency facility, in Hawaii, revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of data such as emails and chat rooms from companies including Facebook and Google, under a government program called Prism.

He fled to Hong Kong and then flew to Moscow, where he and Russian officials say he has remained in the airport transit zone. He has no visa to enter Russia.

Snowden is useful as a propaganda tool for Putin, who accuses the U.S. government of preaching to the world about rights and freedoms it does not uphold at home. But his presence on Russia’s doorstep is a double-edged sword.

Putin has invited Obama for a bilateral summit in Moscow in September, and asylum for Snowden could jeopardize that, even though both countries have signaled they want to improve ties that have been strained in Putin’s third presidential term.

And while pro-Kremlin politicians have been avidly casting Snowden, 30, as a rights defender, former KGB officer Putin said last month that the surveillance methods he revealed were largely justified if applied lawfully.

Putin has said twice that Snowden should choose a final destination and go there, and on July 2 he said Russia could only take Snowden in if he stopped activities “aimed at harming our American partners”.

Putin’s spokesman said on Friday that the condition, which prompted Snowden to withdraw an earlier asylum request, still stood.

Snowden has asked some 20 countries for asylum and received offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but he said on Friday that Western states had made it “impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there”.

The United States has urged nations not to give him passage, and a plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales home from Russia last week was denied access to the airspace of several European countries on suspicion Snowden might be on board.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.