India declines Snowden’s asylum request

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) India Tuesday said it has declined the asylum request of fugitive former CIA agent Edward Snowden who blew the whistle on US data mining.

“I can confirm that earlier today our embassy in Moscow did receive a communication dated June 30 from Mr Edward Snowden. That communication did contain a request for asylum,” said India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin here.

“We have carefully examined the request. Following that examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the request,” he said.

Snowden, who is holed up in Moscow airport has sought asylum from 21 countries, including India. His US passport has been revoked.

The 30-year-old blew the whistle on massive data mining by America’s National Security Agency (NSA), using its top-secret Prism programme.

India said earlier that it would be “unacceptable” if it is revealed that the cyber snooping has infringed on the privacy laws of Indian citizens.

Snowden has reportedly sent asylum requests to 20 countries, including Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.

Snowden has been trapped in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since June 23 after flying in from Hong Kong, from where he leaked top secret documents detailing NSA surveillance programmes.

WikiLeaks Monday posted a statement attributed to Snowden on its website, in which he slams President Barack Obama for “using citizenship as a weapon”.

“Although I am convicted of nothing, (the US) has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person,” Snowden says in the statement. “Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

“Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me,” says the statement.

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