We never hand anyone over, says Vladimir Putin as Edward Snowden asks for asylum

 

The whistleblower behind a series of
leaks that revealed the United States was spying on its allies has applied for
political asylum in Russia, it has emerged, as the French President François
Hollande threatened to call off EU negotiations on a major trade deal unless
the snooping stopped.

Edward Snowden, who is believed to have been in the transit area of a Moscow airport since last week, handed in his application for asylum to the Russian consulate via a WikiLeaks activist he was travelling with, a Russian immigration official told Reuters.

The news came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin had played down the idea that Mr Snowden may stay in Russia. Commenting on the reports that Mr Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, had sought asylum in Moscow, Mr Putin said he would have to stop leaking first. "He should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners," he said. But Mr Snowden was free to leave for asylum elsewhere, he explained. He added: "Russia never gives up anyone to anybody, and is not planning to. And nobody ever gave anyone up to us."

Meanwhile President Hollande has raised the stakes in the bugging row by leading a chorus of protests from France following revelations that its UN mission, and Washington embassy, had been bugged by US intelligence. He called for "guarantees" from the US that the bugging of its allies' premises had stopped and demanded that spying "stop immediately".

"We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies," he said. "No negotiations or transactions can be held in all areas until we have these guarantees [that the eavesdropping will stop]," he said.

"That goes for France and for the whole of the European Union, and for all America's partners." The EU-US negotiations on the largest-ever free trade pact start in Washington on Monday.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman issued a harsh reaction, describing the covert operations as worthy of the Cold War. "Eavesdropping on friends is unacceptable," he said.

President Barack Obama, described by one French leader-writer as "worse than the two Bushes put together", said yesterday that Washington would provide all the information the Europeans are seeking on the surveillance programme.

President Obama said he has held "high-level" discussions with Russia to get Snowden out of a Moscow airport and back to the US.

Mr Snowden is reported to have applied for asylum in 15 countries, including Ecuador. Relations between its government in Quito and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are becoming "incredibly strained" over his part in attempts to give the whistle-blower refuge, The Independent has learnt.

The tensions, confirmed by a Quito source, could bring into question Mr Assange's position in the South American nation's London embassy if they remain unresolved - more than a year after he claimed asylum there in order to avoid extradition to Sweden, only to be prevented from leaving by British police. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is said to have been angered by WikiLeaks' part in Mr Snowden receiving a letter guaranteeing him safe passage.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?