July 13, 2013
Fugitive U.S. intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has not yet filed an official request for political asylum in Russia, the country’s migration chief said Saturday.
“At present, there have been no applications from Snowden,” Federal Migration Service chief Konstantin Romodanovsky told the Interfax news agency.
“If we receive an application, it will be considered in due process of law,” Romodanovsky added.
The former U.S. spy agency contractor, who has been stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after arriving from Hong Kong on June 23, held a closed-door meeting Friday with human rights activists, lawyers and officials.
Meeting participants said Snowden intends to apply for asylum in Russia and has accepted the Kremlin’s condition for asylum that he must stop damaging U.S. interests.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday that Snowden should first address the Federal Migration Service if he wants to be granted asylum.
Noting that Friday’s meeting was “extensively covered by the media,” Lavrov said the ministry “has no contacts with Snowden … I learned about them just as anybody else.”
President Vladimir Putin on Friday held a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama on a wide range of issues, including Snowden’s case, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Snowden, who disclosed a highly classified surveillance project code-named PRISM, has been charged by the U.S. government with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Friday reiterated Washington’s call for Russia to hand over Snowden to face charges in the United States.
The U.S. State Department has revoked Snowden’s U.S. passport, making it difficult for him to go to other destinations without travel documents.