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Snowden to leave Russia at first opportunity but situation unclear -- Putin

July 15, 2013, 20:16 UTC+3

President said: “How should I know? It’s his life and his fate”

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GOGLAND ISLAND, Leningrad Region, July 15 (Itar-Tass) - Former U.S. National Security Agency agent Edward Snowden will leave Russia as soon as such an opportunity presents itself but the situation remains unclear, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday, July 15.

“It is in limbo right now but as soon as he has an opportunity to move elsewhere he will certainly do so,” Putin said at a meeting with students. “He knows the terms of granting political asylum and, judging from his latest statements, he is changing his position, but the situation is not completely clear yet.”

The United States has basically blocked Snowden in Russia by not letting other countries allow him to travel through their territories, the president said. “He arrived in our territory without invitation. He was travelling to other countries as a transit passenger. But as soon as he was airborne and this became known, our American partners had basically blocked his further movement,” Putin said.

“They also frightened all other countries and no one wants to receive him. So they have basically blocked him on our territory,” he added.

When asked about Snowden’s further fate, Putin replied: “How should I know? It’s his life and his fate.”

“After all he wants to move to a place of permanent residence and wants to live permanently elsewhere,” the president said.

He recalled that Snowden had been offered to stay in Russia on condition that he stop he political activities. “We have certain relations with the United States and we do not want your activities to damage our relations with the U.S. He said now. You are laughing but I am being serious. He said he wanted to continue his activities, he wanted to fight for human rights and he thought that the U.S. violated certain norms of international law and interfered in private live, and his goal was to fight that. We said: do so but without us. We have other things to fight,” Putin said.

Commenting on the issue of Snowden’s possible extradition to the United States, Putin said earlier: “Mr. Snowden is a free man, and the sooner he chooses his final destination the better it is for us and for him. I hope it will not affect the business-like character of our relations with the U.S. and I hope that our partners will understand that.”

Snowden is staying in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, and, technically, is not on Russian territory. He is believed to be waiting to fly to an unspecified location, most likely in South America, wherever he is granted political asylum.

A Russian expert believes that Venezuela would be the best asylum for Snowden.

“Asylum for Snowden in Venezuela would be the best solution,” Pushkov said earlier. “That country is in acute conflict with the United States and this can’t make things worse.”

“In fact, he can’t live at Sheremetyevo [Airport in Moscow],” he added.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered “humanitarian asylum” to Snowden in order “to protect him from prosecution of the world’s most powerful governments.”

Maduro made the offer on Friday, July 5, addressing a military parade marking the 202nd anniversary of the country’s independence.

In his opinion, Snowden “did nothing but say the truth” and got prosecuted “by the most powerful empire in the world”.

Meanwhile, The Nicaraguan diplomatic mission in Russia has sent Snowden’s letter to the Nicaraguan president with a request for political asylum, Nicaraguan Ambassador in Moscow Luis Alberto Molina told ITAR-TASS.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said on July 6 that he was ready to grant political asylum to Snowden for “humanitarian reasons”.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for “calm and reasonableness” in dealing with the Snowden issue.

“We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is a fugitive from justice. We’re not looking for a confrontation. We are not ordering anybody,” Kerry said.


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