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Ed Snowden applies for asylum in Russia, Putin: He can stay if he stops leaking

A Russian official has confirmed to AFP that the US whistleblower and fugitive has applied for political asylum.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, THE former National Security Agency employee who exposed the US’ surveillance programmes, is said to have applied for political asylum in Russia.

A Russian official has told AFP that Snowden, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges, has applied for political asylum.

“At 10.30 pm (1830 GMT) yesterday (Sunday), British citizen Sarah Harrison turned up at the consulate department at Sheremetyevo airport and submitted a request from Snowden about granting him asylum,” a consular officer at Sheremetyevo airport, Kim Shevchenko, told AFP.

Sarah Harrison is an employee of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who accompanied Snowden on his trip from Hong Kong.

Earlier, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that Snowden could stay in Russia permanently as long as he stopped leaking US intelligence information.

“If he (Snowden) wants to remain here there is one condition — he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me,” Putin said.

He added that authorities in Russia are not working with him, insisting: “He is not our agent and does not cooperate with us. Our secret services never worked with him and are not working with him now.”

Snowden, a 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, after he quit his job with the National Security Agency and fled to Hong Kong with a cache of secret documents.

He later leaked the documents to The Guardian newspaper, exposing the United States’ vast programme of surveillance methods which include gathering phone and internet records in a bid to unearth terror plots.

Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong last week, where he had been hiding for several weeks to evade US justice.

Ecuador was reported to be considering an application for asylum there but it now appears that Snowden will remain in Russia where he has been camped out for over a week in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport.

- additional reporting from AFP

Read: Ed Snowden’s dad: ‘My son broke the law – but he’s no traitor’

Read: Ed Snowden was supposed to be on this flight to Cuba… but he didn’t turn up

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Hugh O'Connell

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