Snowden’s asylum requests receive mixed reactions


Wed, Jul 03, 2013 - Page 1

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was denied asylum by a host of countries yesterday after applying for a safe haven in 21 nations spanning the globe in the hopes of winning protection from US prosecution.

Poland immediately rejected the petitions, while an Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “We have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the request.”

The Netherlands also said no.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden himself had decided to scrap his petition with Moscow — where he has been stranded in an airport transit zone since June 23 — after the Kremlin leader said he wanted him to stop releasing damaging allegations about the US.

“He abandoned his intention and his request to receive the chance of staying in Russia,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The WikiLeaks anti-secrecy Web site that is helping the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor said he had sent out applications to 13 European countries, as well as six Latin American nations, along with China and India.

A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman in Beijing said: “I’ve seen some reports of his petition for political asylum in some countries, but I have no information about that.”

Austria and Finland, as well as Iceland, Norway and Spain confirmed they had received the request, but said it was legally invalid because it was not filed from inside their respective countries. Ireland also said it could not accept an asylum request brought in this way.

Italy said it was “evaluating” the request, which it dubbed “irregular” because it was not made in person.

Germany said Snowden’s request would be reviewed “according to the law,” while France and Switzerland had not yet received the asylum application.

However, leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales said yesterday his country was willing to consider giving Snowden asylum.

“If there were a request, of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea,” Morales told Russia’s state-run RT television in comments translated by the channel from Spanish.

Snowden also found support from another leftist Latin American leader, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“What he did was reveal a big truth so that we could avoid a war,” Maduro said during a two-day visit to Moscow where he was attending an energy summit. “What is happening now should not be — he never killed anyone or planted any bombs.”

However, Maduro refused to entertain speculation that he might take Snowden on a plane with him from Moscow — a possibility raised both by Russian media and political observers of the explosive case.

Snowden has been stuck in a Moscow airport’s transit zone since arriving there from Hong Kong after releasing explosive allegations about Washington’s vast global spying programs.

He accused the US late on Monday of pressuring foreign leaders to refuse him refuge after the US charged him with espionage over his intelligence leaks.

“These are the old, bad tools of political aggression,” Snowden said in a statement published by WikiLeaks. “Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.”