New Delhi: India has rejected a request for asylum by US whistleblower Edward Snowden made through its mission in Moscow three days ago. Snowden faces espionage charges in the United States and is currently holed up in a transit area at Moscow’s airport.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters, “India has a very careful and restrictive policy on asylums. We have given asylums in the past but we are not an open house for asylums.”
Snowden’s attempts to seek refuge outside the United States hit hurdles after several European countries said such applications wouldn’t be considered if they were made from abroad. Officials in Germany, Norway, Austria, Poland, Finland and Switzerland all said he must make his request on their soil.
Russia, in turn, is only ready to offer conditional asylum — that is, as long as Snowden stops leaking US secrets. At the same time, Putin said he had no plans to turn over Snowden to the United States.
Requests have also been made to Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Iceland, India, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Spain and Venezuela.
WikiLeaks has posted a statement attributed to Snowden on its website, in which he has slammed President Barack Obama for “using citizenship as a weapon.” “Although I am convicted of nothing, (the United States) has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person,” Snowden says in the statement. “Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me from exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody — the right to seek asylum. “Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.”
Snowden has been on the run since releasing sensitive NSA documents.