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Snowden told to "stop leaking U.S. secrets" to stay in Russia

July 2, 2013

Since the final week of June, fugitive ex-intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has allegedly been in hiding somewhere within the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia. He is currently wanted by the United States for publicizing classified information on the domestic spying programs of the U.S. National Security Agency. According to The Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that for the whistle-blower to remain anywhere in or near Russian soil, he must conduct no further efforts to expose secret American intelligence. This tense situation could well be the topic of phone conversations conducted by curious denizens of the Moscow airport using international calling cards.

The news source reported that Putin made this statement at a recent press conference. "If he wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do that," Putin said. "If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips."

Putin's proclamation could be viewed as inconsistent with his previous stance regarding Snowden. The Russian leader publicly announced Snowden's location last week and made a point of saying not only that he wouldn't extradite the former intelligence officer, but also that he had no authority to do so, because the Sheremetyevo transit zone is not technically under Russian jurisdiction.

Reuters reported that a number of countries have directly denied or dismissed Snowden's requests for political asylum. These include Ecuador, Norway, Poland, India, Finland, Spain, Ireland and Austria, potentially in response to U.S. President Barack Obama's statement that aiding the leaker would lead to problematic relations between any country that does so and the United States.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro publicly stated the exact opposite, saying that Snowden had "done something very important for humanity" and that Venezuela would consider a request for asylum. He urged other nations to do the same.

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