President Vladimir Putin said former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden appeared to be shifting his position towards accepting Russia’s terms for political asylum even though the situation has not fully clarified.
Mr. Putin recalled that Mr. Snowden had initially rejected Moscow’s condition for seeking asylum — to stop “harming out U.S. partners.”
“From the very beginning we told him: ‘If you want to stay, you’re welcome, but you must stop political activity. We have our relations with the U.S. and we would not like you to harm them with your activity,” Mr. Putin said on Monday. “He said no... He said, ‘I want to continue my activity, to fight for human rights and I think that U.S. is violating certain international norms, is intervening in private life and it is my goal to fight this.”
Mr. Snowden, stranded for three weeks at a Moscow airport, on Friday renewed his request of political asylum in Russia and said he had no problem meeting Mr Putin’s conditions.
“As soon as there is an opportunity for him to move elsewhere, I hope he will do that. He is familiar with the conditions of granting political asylum, and judging by the latest statements, is shifting his position,” Mr. Putin said, adding that the situation was not “completely clear” because Mr. Snowden “keeps changing his stand.”
As of Monday evening, Mr. Snowden has not yet filed his asylum application with the Russian Migration Service.
The Russian leader said the U.S. had trapped Mr. Snowden in Russia when they cancelled his passport.
“He arrived on our territory without an invitation, he was not flying to us - he was transiting to other countries. But as soon as he got in the air it became known, and our American partners, in fact, blocked his further flight,” Mr. Putin said.
“They scared all other countries, nobody wants to take him. They in fact trapped him on our territory. It’s a Christmas gift of sorts.”