US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden pictured during an interview with the Guardian© REUTERS/ Ewen MacAskill/The Guardian/Handout
MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian authorities will consider political asylum for Edward Snowden, who risks prosecution in the United States for his recent blockbuster spy leaks, if he sends a proper request, business daily Kommersant said Tuesday, citing the Kremlin spokesman.
“If we receive such a request, we will consider it,” Kommersant quoted presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying.
Snowden, a 29-year-old former employee of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), unmasked himself on Sunday as a source of recent disclosures about US government’s secret surveillance programs.
He said he was aware of possible prosecution but disclosed secret documents in response to America’s systematic surveillance of innocent citizens.
The leaks have led the NSA to ask the US Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation with possible “state treason” charges. The Justice Department did not comment on the issue saying only that it was in the “initial stages of an investigation” into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, according to The Washington Post.
Snowden, who moved to Hong Kong from the United States before revealing secrets to media, earlier told The Washington Post that he was seeking “asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy.”
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been hiding at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June last year to avoid his extradition to Sweden, on Monday called Snowden a “hero” and urged other countries to grant the US whistleblower political asylum.
“What other countries need to do is line up to give support for him. Everyone should go to their politicians and press and demand that they offer Mr. Snowden asylum in their country,” Sky News quoted him as saying.
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- WalterStorchSnowden's future19:23, 11/06/2013Mr. Snowden is hardly safe in Hong Kong. If the United States offered the PRC (of which Hong Kong is a part)enough money they would put him on the next plane to America. When the extent of NSA's spying on the citizens of other countries becomes public, there will be an international uproar and Russia would probably be his safest choice.
- jg(no title)12:28, 12/06/2013The Chinese don't need money - they have money - whereas the USA has huge public and private debts. As a world superpower, China is too big and powerful to feel any pressure from the USA. The only reason the Chinese would deport Snowden would be if he broke any of their laws or if he caused embarrassment or inconvenience to the Chinese government.
Snowden has mentioned Iceland as a potential destination, as they have some history in this area. He might also be welcome in some EU countries, as several EU governments have expressed annoyance at the revelations of spying on their citizens. The USA already has a history here, such as when the French found that the USA had spied on French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault, to the benefit of an American manufacturer, when both were bidding for a lucrative export order.
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Some people are trying to make the reality in Russia at least a bit more humane. The amnesty should apply not only to persons involved in high-profile cases, but also to individuals who are not as well-known. It is better to set free at least some of the individuals who deserve to be released than no one at all.