July 2, 2013
US whistleblower Edward Snowden asked for asylum in Russia, but later withdrew the request after President Putin urged him to cease “anti-American activity,” according to the President’s spokesperson.
“Snowden did ask to stay in Russia. However, when he found out Russia’s position on the matter and the associated conditions he decided not to stay in Russia,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Snowden is still held up in a Moscow airport and has issued asylum bids to 15 countries, the spokesman added.
Peskov told press that Russia does not relinquish political asylum seekers to countries with the death penalty.
“Snowden, by sincere conviction or for some other reason, considers himself to be a human rights activist, a fighter for the ideals of democracy and human freedom. Russian human rights activists and organizations, as well as their colleagues abroad acknowledge this. For this reason, extraditing Snowden to a country like the US where capital punishment is enforced is impossible,” Peskov explained to press.
Furthermore, Peskov stressed that Snowden is currently in the transit zone area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and had never crossed the Russian border. He added that the Russian authorities are not engaged in active dialogue with the former CIA employee and “have never collaborated with Snowden.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin  stated on Monday that Snowden could stay in the Russian Federation on the condition that he ceased all anti-American activity. Furthermore, Putin affirmed that Russia has no intention of extraditing Snowden as “Russia has never extradited anyone.”
The former CIA employee, responsible for releasing troves of NSA classified data to the press, is stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo for the time being. The whistleblower has applied for asylum in 21 countries, according to the organization WikiLeaks, who claims to be helping Snowden get political asylum.
So far only a few countries have confirmed they have received the asylum requests and are considering them. Snowden originally filed for political asylum to Ecuador and Iceland. The Ecuadorian government has said they are currently processing the request, but Snowden must get to Ecuador on his own.
Snowden has captivated the world’s press after leaking data on the NSA’s mass surveillance program in May. The whistleblower originally sought to evade US jurisdiction in Hong Kong but left for Moscow on June 23, travelling on special documents given to him by the Ecuadorian government as his US passport was voided.
However, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa  said on Monday that any help granted to Snowden had been purely accidental and that no more aid would be given to him. He stressed that the Ecuadorian consul in London acted outside their authority when they issued the travel documents to Snowden.