Russian ombudsman against Snowden asylum

2013-06-28 20:48
The transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. (File, AP)

The transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. (File, AP)

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Moscow - Russia's human rights ombudsman suggested on Friday that Edward Snowden should be denied political asylum, as the fugitive US intelligence leaker remained for a sixth day in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

While a range of Russian lawmakers and rights activists this week have called for Snowden to be granted refugee status in the country, Vladimir Lukin said he did not think it a wise move.

"He has not committed any crime in Russia. But we do not give asylum to everybody who has not committed a crime against Russia," Lukin told the Interfax news agency.

The former intelligence contractor who exposed details of US online spying activities is unable to leave Moscow because the US has revoked his passport.

Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador, but the government in Quito has sent mixed signals as to the status of his request.

The 30-year-old's odyssey began on Sunday when he fled Hong Kong on the flight to Moscow after being charged in the US with espionage and theft of government documents.

No visa needed

The US has demanded Snowden be extradited, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that officials are powerless to do so as Moscow has no extradition agreement with Washington and Snowden had not committed any crimes on Russian soil.

He said that as a transit passenger, Snowden needs no visa because he has not formally entered Russia and is free to buy a ticket to wherever he wants.

Snowden's father said in an interview on Friday that his son had broken the law by releasing the classified information but refused to call him a traitor.

"At this point I don't feel that he's committed treason. He has in fact broken US law, in a sense that he has released classified information," Lonnie Snowden told NBC News.

"And if folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact he has betrayed his government. But I don't believe that he's betrayed the people of the United States."

Read more on:    edward snowden  |  vladimir putin  |  us  |  russia  |  privacy  |  espionage

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