Stuck in legal limbo in a Moscow airport, Edward Snowden is running into diplomatic brick walls as several countries rebuff his requests for asylum.
Brazil, Poland, India and Germany have turned down the admitted leaker of state secrets. Even Ecuador, which helped Mr. Snowden leave Hong Kong last month, is now sending mixed signals. And Mr. Snowden withdrew his request to Russia after learning of the terms.
Mr. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who is being sought by the United States on espionage charges, asked 21 countries for asylum. He is now believed to be in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport, unable to leave because the U.S. revoked his passport.
He broke his silence for the first time in nine days on Monday, accusing President Barack Obama of “using citizenship as a weapon” by pressuring countries to refuse his asylum petitions.
“Although I am convicted of nothing, [the United States] has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person,” Mr. Snowden said in a statement posted to the website of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that is helping him. “Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”
Here are more details on the countries Mr. Snowden has asked to provide a safe harbour:
Ecuador: Mr. Snowden initially planned to seek asylum in Ecuador, which is sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its embassy in London. However, President Rafael Correa appears to have cooled on the prospect, telling the Guardian newspaper on Monday that giving Mr. Snowden a document allowing him to leave Hong Kong last month was a “mistake” and that Ecuador would not consider his request until he was on its territory. Asked whether he would like to meet Mr. Snowden, Mr. Correa said: “Not particularly. He’s a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr. Snowden spied for some time.”
Russia: Mr. Snowden withdrew his bid for asylum in Russia when he learned the terms Moscow had set out, according to Mr. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Mr. Putin said on Monday that Russia would shelter Mr. Snowden as long as he gave up his “anti-American activity”. At the same time, however, Mr. Putin said he had no plans to turn Mr. Snowden over to the U.S.
Brazil: A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that the country would not grant asylum to Mr. Snowden, adding that it will leave the request unanswered.
Poland: Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said he would not grant Mr. Snowden’s request. “We received a document that does not meet the requirements for a formal application for asylum,” he wrote on Twitter. “Even if it did, I will not give a positive recommendation.”
India: A Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Delhi has carefully examined his application and decided to turn it down. “Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request,” Syed Akbaruddin said.
Germany: The Interior Ministry specifically ruled out granting Mr. Snowden asylum, saying that “the conditions to take him in are not there.”
France: French politicians on both the far right and left have called for France to accept Mr. Snowden’s request for asylum, but it is unlikely as President Francois Hollande sees the U.S. as an important ally. Mr. Hollande has called for a common European stance on the NSA snooping as leaders express outrage about leaked information alleging that the U.S. eavesdropped on EU diplomats.
Others: Many countries said Mr. Snowden cannot apply for asylum from abroad. Officials in Austria, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland all said he must make his request on their soil. Asylum requests have also been made to Italy, China, Cuba, Iceland and Nicaragua, but they have not yet issued formal responses.
Venezuela: Venezuela appears to be the leading contender for granting asylum to Mr. Snowden, who had booked flights to Havana and onto Caracas before becoming trapped in legal limbo in Moscow more than a week ago. President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that he “deserves the world’s protection,” adding: “He has a right to protection because the United States in its actions is persecuting him. … Why are they persecuting him? What has he done? Did he launch a missile and kill someone? Did he rig a bomb and kill someone? No. He is preventing war.”
Bolivia: The South American country could be another option for Mr. Snowden. President Evo Morales, who is in Russia for a summit of major gas exporters, said Bolivia would be willing to consider granting him asylum.
With reports from The Associated Press and ReutersReport Typo/Error