Contradicting multiple reports, Russia’s immigration service denied on Monday that NSA leaker Edward Snowden applied for asylum in Russia, according to Russia Today.
Multiple news reports said Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks attorney traveling with Snowden, handed in his application requesting political asylum Sunday night to the Russian consulate inside Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport where Snowden has been stuck in the transit area and unable to leave without a valid passport.
But the Russian Federal Migration service said those reports are not true.
“Information published in the foreign media that Snowden [asked for asylum] is not true,” Russia Today reported the FMS told the Itar-Tass agency.
However, the Russian news agency also said that according to an Interfax report, “Kim Shevchenko, a consul at the Sheremetyevo airport, says that Snowden did apply for asylum.”
“According to the official, Sara Harrison [WikiLeaks activist] – who introduced herself as Snowden’s lawyer – handed him the NSA leaker’s application on Sunday evening,” Russia Today reported, though said they were unable to verify the information with the Foreign Ministry. “The diplomat said he took the file, contacted the Foreign Ministry, and gave the document to the Ministry’s courier.”
Sky News reported that President Vladimir Putin told reporters Monday that Snowden could stay in Russia, but that he would have to stop leaking information damaging to the U.S.:
Snowden is free to go, but if he decides to stay, he has to stop his work directed to hurt our American partners. I know that this kind of statement sounds strange from me.
Putin added, though, he realizes Snowden won’t stop and will continue leaking information.