Snowden drops Russia asylum request

8:29 AM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
Edward Snowden
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(USATODAY.com) - U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has abandoned his request for asylum in Russia, according to reports, after President Vladimir Putin said the former National Security Agency contractor must stop his anti-American activity.

In a statement posted on the WikiLeaks website published on Monday, Snowden said that his "continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will."

That was followed on Tuesday by a statement detailing the number of countries to which requests for asylum had been made, including Russia, Norway, China, France, Ireland and others, totaling 21 countries.

But Russian news agencies Tuesday quoted President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Snowden has now withdrawn his application to Russia, with the U.S. fugitive apparently unhappy with the conditions Russia has set.

President Putin said Monday that Snowden would have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted to be granted asylum in Russia, where Snowden has been hiding out for eight days.

Putin said while Moscow "never hands over anybody anywhere" Snowden needed to stop harming Russia's "American partners."

Several of the other countries where WikiLeaks says Snowden has applied for asylum have said he cannot apply from abroad. Officials in Germany, Norway, Austria, Poland, Finland and Switzerland all said he must make his request on their soil.

The U.S. has annulled Snowden's passport, and Ecuador, where he had initially hoped to get asylum, has been giving mixed signals about offering him shelter.

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