Snowden drops bid for asylum in Russia

London, July 3 (IANS/EFE) Edward Snowden rescinded his application for political asylum in Russia and appeared to be running out of options Tuesday as he remained stuck in the transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

The former CIA employee and government contractor who has provided documents exposing the US National Security Agency’s massive surveillance of global telephonic and Internet communications arrived in Moscow June 23 from Hong Kong.

Washington, which is charging Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act, revoked his US passport, leaving him unable to board a commercial flight unless some other government provides him with travel documents.

Though authorities in Moscow declined to speculate on why Snowden withdrew his asylum request, it seems likely he was deterred by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that approval would be conditioned on the applicant’s willingness to forgo making any further revelations about the US government.

The 29-year-old American has sought asylum from a score of countries.

Ecuador, the nation that was expected to welcome Snowden, said it can only consider asylum requests from people who have reached Ecuadorian soil or one of the country’s diplomatic missions.

It was at around this time last year that Quito extended asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London because Britain refuses to grant him safe conduct to the airport.

A number of countries, including Spain, Poland, Norway, Ireland, India and Brazil, said Tuesday they would not consider Snowden’s asylum bid.

But the leaders of two nations that have yet to get an asylum request from Snowden have indicated they would be receptive to such a request.

“Yes, why not?,” Bolivian President Evo Morales told a television interviewer who asked if La Paz would consider giving Snowden refuge.

Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, said last week that his government would “almost certainly” extend asylum to Snowden.

“He did not kill anyone and did not plant a bomb,” Maduro said Tuesday in Moscow, where both he and Morales were attending a summit of gas-exporting nations. “What he did was tell a great truth in an effort to prevent wars. He deserves protection under international and humanitarian law.”



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