Russia Offers to Consider Asylum for NSA Leaker Snowden
Russia has offered to consider asylum for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The Guardian reported:
Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, in the Kremlin’s latest move to woo critics of the west.
Snowden fled the United States before leaking the details of a top-secret US surveillance programme to the Guardian this month. He is currently believed to be in Hong Kong, but has reportedly changed hotels to keep his location secret.
Fearing US retaliation, Snowden said at the weekend that “my predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values”, citing Iceland as an example. He defended his decision to flee to Hong Kong by citing its relative freedom compared with mainland China.
Snowden is not known to have made any asylum requests, including to Russia. Yet speaking to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said: “If such an appeal is given, it will be considered. We’ll act according to facts.”
Peskov’s comments were widely carried by the Russian media, which have largely ignored Snowden’s revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) was secretly empowered with wide-reaching authority to collect information from the US mobile provider Verizon and to snoop on emails and internet communications via a data-mining programme called Prism. Russia’s feared security services are widely believed to maintain similar powers.
Peskov’s comments on potential asylum opened the floodgates on support for Snowden. Robert Shlegel, an influential MP with the ruling United Russia party, said: “That would be a good idea.”