Snowden to Seek Asylum in Russia as US Reiterates Call to Hand Him Over

Edward Snowden in Russia
The US government Friday called for Russia to hand over whistleblower Edward Snowden, who could be facing espionage charges. It has been reported that Snowden intends to seek asylum. The tug of war between the America and Russia reached another limit after the US administration declared their intentions, regarding on the former NSA contractor. Just a few hours ago Snowden tried to renew his asylum plea to the Russians and met with a human rights agency. The situation has dragged on for more than three weeks, as Snowden hunkers down in a Moscow airport. The US State Department has revoked his passport, making it difficult for him to travel to other countries. It lands him in geopolitical limbo. Seemingly Snowden is now about to be trapped.

Snowden was charged by Washington with espionage and theft of government property following his disclosure of massive secret phone and internet surveillance programs run by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Russian officials have suggested they would like him to leave Russia, where he fled on June 23 from Hong Kong, one step ahead of an American extradition request. The US government is trying to avoid wasting any more time and has reiterated its call for Russia to stop the “Catch me if you can” drama. Several participants in the closed-door talks confirmed that Snowden was seeking asylum in Russia.

“Our position on Mr Snowden and the felony charges against him and our belief that he ought to be returned to the United States to face those felony charges is as it was, and we have communicated it to a variety of countries, including Russia,” Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney as saying at a press briefing. “We continue to discuss with Russia our strongly held view that there is absolute legal justification for him to be expelled, for him to be returned to the United States to face the charges that have been brought against him for the unauthorized leaking of classified information,” Carney added.

Earlier Friday, breaking a long silence and seclusion after having spent nearly three weeks in the transit zone at Moscow airport, Edward Snowden told the representatives that “The only way for him to have safety guarantees for temporary stay in Russia is apparently to get an asylum in Russia” would be fruitful for him. Tanya Lokshina, a Human Rights Watch representative attended the meeting, said on Friday.

Carney criticized Russia for letting Snowden meet the Human Rights activists.  “I would simply say that providing a propaganda platform for Mr Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality and that they have no control over his presence in the airport,” Carney said. “It’s also incompatible with Russian assurances that they do not want Mr. Snowden to further damage US interests.”, he added. He said Washington does not want to see bilateral ties with Moscow harmed by the Snowden case. The way they reiterated the call, however, may make Russia angry. Handing over a leaker seems a really hard thing to do.

Meanwhile, the US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also expressed disappointment with the Snowden meeting, a move she said was facilitated by Russia. “We obviously don’t think this was a proper forum or a proper elevation of him,” she said, adding that “He’s not a whistleblower. He’s not a human rights activist. He’s wanted on a series of serious criminal charges.”

Psaki also remarked “We still believe that Russia has the opportunity to do the right thing and facilitates his return to us.”

The US is obviously determined to bring Snowden back onto their terrain; they pressurized other countries not to conceal the leaker. Their connection with Russia seems strong over ‘Snowden Saga’. They reiterated the call that Russia hand him over to them. It’s appears to be in Russia’s hands, however and the US will have to await their decision. their choice. It’s ludicrous to think how a leaker make political water turbulent over a few weeks. The ‘Catch me if you can’ saga continues for now!

Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul

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