Jul 03, 2013

    Snowden runs into brick wall in asylum bid

    SEVERAL countries yesterday spurned asylum requests from Mr Edward Snowden, the former United States spy-agency contractor wanted for leaking secrets.

    Mr Snowden, who revealed the secret US electronic-surveillance programme, Prism, has applied for political asylum in more than a dozen countries.

    The 30-year-old is in legal limbo in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, unable to fly because he has no legal travel documents and no Russian visa to leave the airport.

    On Monday, he broke a nine-day silence since arriving in Moscow from Hong Kong, challenging Washington by saying he was free to publish more about its programmes and that he was being illegally persecuted.

    That ruled out a prolonged stay in Russia, where a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said Mr Snowden had withdrawn his request for asylum after the Russian leader said that he should give up his "anti-American activity".

    Mr Snowden has prepared asylum requests for countries including India, China, Brazil, Ireland, Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela, WikiLeaks said.

    But several countries, including his favoured Ecuador, said they could not consider an asylum request from him unless he was on their territory.

    Norway said he was unlikely to get asylum there, and Poland said it would not give a "positive recommendation" to any request.

    Finland, Spain, Ireland and Austria said he had to be in their countries to make a request, while India said it saw "no reason" to accept his petition.

    Only Venezuela seemed sympathetic.

    President Nicolas Maduro said of Mr Snowden during a visit to Moscow: "He deserves the world's protection."