Snowden accuses Obama of 'deception'

Snowden accuses Obama of 'deception'

The whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused President Obama of "wheeling and dealing" in attempts to block his efforts to seek asylum.

The former CIA analyst said such "deception" is "not justice".

Snowden has applied for asylum or assistance in 21 countries, including Ireland, Germany and Spain.

The former National Security Agency contractor will have to stop leaking US secrets if he wants to get asylum in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has said, but he believes he has no intention of doing so.

Mr Putin’s statement came hours after Mr Snowden asked for political asylum, according to a consular official at the Moscow airport where the leaker has been caught in legal limbo for more than a week.

US president Barack Obama said there have been high-level discussions between the US and Russia about Mr Snowden’s expulsion, though Mr Putin repeated that Russia will not send him back to the United States.

Mr Putin’s stance could reflect a reluctance to shelter Mr Snowden, which would hurt already-strained US-Russian ties.

At the same time, the Russian leader seemed to keep the door open to allowing him to stay, a move that would follow years of anti-American rhetoric popular with Mr Putin’s core support base of industrial workers and state employees.

Mr Putin said at a news conference: “If he wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do so. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound coming from my lips.”

Mr Snowden has been stuck in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23. The US has annulled his passport, and Ecuador, where he hoped to get asylum, has been coy about whether it would take him.

Kim Shevchenko, duty officer at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s consular office in the airport reportedly said that Mr Snowden’s representative, Sarah Harrison, handed over his request for asylum late yesterday.

Mr Putin insisted that Mr Snowden is not a Russian agent and that Russian security agencies have not contacted him.

Mr Snowden does not want to stop his efforts to reveal information about the US surveillance programme, probably because he considers himself a rights activist and a “new dissident,” Mr Putin said.

The US has appeared to back off from tough public words as it tries to broker Mr Snowden’s return, in part to avoid increasing tensions as Mr Obama looks for Russia’s cooperation in finding a path to peace in Syria.

Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s presidential security council, said in televised remarks today that Mr Putin and Mr Obama had ordered their security agencies to search for a way out of the situation.

He said: “It’s not an easy task, because they need to find a solution in the framework of international law. There is no such norm, there is no a ready recipe.”

Mr Obama would not confirm that Russian and US law enforcement agencies are working together.

Three US officials said Washington’s efforts are focused primarily on getting Russia to deport Mr Snowden, either directly to the United States or to a third country, possibly in eastern Europe, that would then hand him over to US authorities.

Mr Putin’s comments come as Mr Obama’s administration is facing a breakdown in confidence from key allies over secret programmes that reportedly installed covert listening devices in EU offices.

Europe’s outrage was triggered by a report by German news weekly Der Spiegel that the National Security Agency (NSA) bugged diplomats from friendly nations - such as the EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels.

The report was partly based on the series of revelations of US eavesdropping leaked by National Security Agency Snowden.

French president Francois Hollande demanded that the US immediately stop the alleged eavesdropping and suggested that the widening surveillance scandal could derail negotiations for a free-trade deal potentially worth billions.

“We cannot accept this kind of behaviour from partners and allies,” Mr Hollande said on French television today.

The German government launched a review of its secure communications network and the EU’s executive, the European Commission, ordered “a comprehensive ad hoc security sweep”.

US secretary of state John Kerry said today he did not know the details of the allegations, but tried to downplay them, maintaining that many nations undertake various activities to protect their national interests. He failed to quell the outrage from allies, including France, Germany and Italy.

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