Whistleblower Edward Snowden has recalled his application for asylum in Russia even as he remains marooned at a Moscow airport without travel papers for more than a week.
President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary said on Tuesday Mr. Snowden had dropped his asylum bid when he learned of terms the Russian leader set for meeting his request.
Responding to Mr Snowdens’ asylum request filed on Sunday, Mr Putin said the fugitive American could stay in Russia if he stopped “harming our American partners” by exposing U.S. global secret surveillance.
Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s press secretary, reiterated Moscow’s promise not to not extradite Mr. Snowden to the U.S., but gave a new reason for this stand. While Mr. Putin earlier said Russian could not expel Mr. Snowden because it had no extradition treaty with the U.S., his press secretary argued that Mr. Snowden cannot be handed over to the U.S. because it allowed capital punishment.
Mr. Snowden’s refusal to seek asylum will keep him stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport till one of the 20 other countries he has asked for asylum agrees to take him.
Venezuela is one of the top options, with its President Nicolas Maduro saying last week that his country was “almost certain” to grant Mr. Snowden asylum if he filed a formal request.
On Tuesday Mr Putin met the Venezuelan leader who is in Moscow for a summit of gas exporting countries. Journalists hoped to ask the two leaders about Mr. Snowden’s fate, which the two leaders had planned to discuss, according to the Kremlin. However, Mr. Putin and Mr. Maduro did not take questions at a traditional interaction with the media after their talks, confining themselves to reading prepared statements.