Fugitive former U.S. intelligence officer Edward Snowden has declined an intention to stay in Russia. Vladimir Putin's condition, on the basis of which the whistleblower could technically be granted asylum in Russia, did not meet his needs, president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. Putin said that Snowden would be able to stay on the territory of the Russian Federation if he agreed to discontinue "anti-American activities."
According to Peskov, quoted by Russia's major news agencies, the American remains in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport, and he has not crossed the Russian border. The official stressed once again that Russian secret services have never worked with Snowden.
Peskov said that the delivery of Edward Snowden to the United States, where the death penalty is still in effect, was impossible. "Russia has never delivered, doesn't deliver and won't deliver anyone. The cases that have taken place before were associated with exchanges," he said. Snowden, "by his own sincere conviction or for any other reason considers himself a human rights activist, a fighter for the ideals of democracy and human liberties. Russian human rights defenders and human rights organizations acknowledge this too, as well as their counterparts abroad. In this regard, Snowden's delivery to the country, where death penalty is still in practice, is impossible," he said.
Snowden requested political asylum on June 30th from 18 countries, including Russia. Taking into consideration the fact that he had previously approached the authorities of Iceland and Ecuador, and was refused, there are 21 countries involved in the story. The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation called Snowden's petition a "desperate effort."
According to WikiLeaks, Snowden's assistant Sarah Harrison (she also served as an assistant to Julian Assange, who last year received political asylum in Ecuador and has been hiding in the embassy in London) personally handed over the documents on behalf of Snowden in the Russian consulate office of Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday evening.
Russian diplomats will deliver requests to embassies of the above-mentioned countries in Moscow. Some of them, Norway, for instance, have already confirmed that they had received the papers. Others, like Venezuela, said that the documents had not been received. President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, who is in Moscow for a visit, ironically replied to the question of whether he would take Snowden away with him: "What we are taking with us is the numerous agreements that we sign with Russia, particularly in the oil and gas sector," he said.
WikiLeaks lists the countries that Snowden approached:
Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Finland, France, Switzerland
Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua
The list was published after Snowden accused the president of the United States of depriving him of the right to asylum and of putting pressure on the countries, to which he made such a request. "These are old, bad tools of political aggression to silence me. The goal is to intimidate - not me, but those who will come after me," the 30-year fugitive said in a statement for WikiLeaks.
"The Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, or Bradley Manning. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised - and it should be," wrote the courageous American.