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Snowden issue strains US-Russia ties

Snowden issue strains US-Russia ties
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US President Barack Obama discussed the status of Edward Snowden with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, hours after the former US spy...

US President Barack Obama discussed the status of Edward Snowden with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, hours after the former US spy agency contractor made clear his intention to seek political asylum in Russia. In their phone conversation, the two leaders "noted the importance of US-Russian bilateral relations and discussed a range of security and bilateral issues, including the status of Edward Snowden and cooperation on counterterrorism in the lead-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics", the White House said in a terse statement.

Snowden, who has been marooned in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival there on June 23, disclosed his intention to seek asylum in Russia through his meeting with a group of Russian and foreign human rights activists, lawyers and parliamentarians earlier in the day.

Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters that the 30-year-old American has agreed to stop damaging US interests, a precondition set by Putin days earlier for Snowden to stay in Russia. White House spokesman Jay Carney Friday reiterated Washington's call for Russia to hand over Snowden to face espionage charges back at home. Snowden was charged by Washington with espionage and theft of government property following his disclosure in early June of massive secret phone and Internet surveillance programs of the US National Security Agency. The US State Department has revoked his passport, making it difficult for him to travel on to other destinations without travel documents.

putin with obama

Russia yet to receive Snowden's plea Moscow (AP): Russian immigration officials say they have not received an application from Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency whistleblower who wants to get asylum in Russia. Snowden had said on Friday he would seek Russian asylum, at least as a temporary measure before going to Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua. Snowden came to Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport on June 23, 2013, from Hong Kong, apparently intending to board a flight to Cuba. But he did not get on that flight and is believed to have spent the last three weeks marooned in the airport's transit zone.

On Friday, he met there with human rights activists and said he would seek Russian asylum, at least as a temporary measure before going to Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua, all of which have offered him asylum. But the Interfax news agency quoted Russian migration service head Konstantin Romodanovsky as saying no asylum request had been received as of Saturday.

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