In a press conference on Monday, President Vladimir Putin said that leaker Edward Snowden would not get political asylum unless he stopped leaking classified information.
“If he wants to go somewhere and they accept him, please, be my guest. If he wants to say here, there is one condition: He must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, as strange as it may sound from my lips.”
However, Putin said he would not turn over Snowden to the U.S. “Russia never gives up anyone to anybody and is not planning to.”
An immigration official reported that Snowden had applied for political asylum in Russia, “Ms. [Sarah] Harrison hand-delivered Ms. Snowden’s application to a Russian consulate in Terminal F of the airport late Sunday evening.” Ms. Harrison is associated with Wikileaks, and has assisted Mr. Snowden since early on in his flight.
Snowden has applied to 15 different countries for asylum, described as “a desperate measure” by a foreign ministry official. Russia’s human rights commissioner Vladimir P. Lukin said it takes a month for an application for political asylum to receive an answer.
Several Russian public figures have come out in favor of granting Snowden asylum. “I believe that we should not give him away in any case,” said Aleksandr Sidyakin, a prominent member of the majority United Russia Party. “It seems to me that Snowden is the greatest pacifist. This person has done no less to win the Nobel Peace Prize than Barack Obama.”