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Putin hopes Snowden leaves Russia as soon as possible

By Sergei L. Loiko

Los Angeles Times

LAST UPDATED: 01:08 a.m. HST, Jul 16, 2013

MOSCOW » Edward Snowden's on-again, off-again relationship with the Russian government appeared to take a nosedive again, when President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the American fugitive would leave the country "as soon as he has the chance."

Elaborating on past comments about the former National Security Agency contractor, who has leaked sensitive data about American surveillance methods, Putin suggested that it wouldn't be worth the diplomatic fallout for his country to offer Snowden asylum. Snowden has said he intended to apply for asylum in Russia, among other places.

Speaking to students at a summer archaeology camp on Gogland island near St. Petersburg, the Russian president seemed bemused as he described Snowden's plight.

"We suggested to him: 'If you want to stay you are welcome, but you must stop your political activities,'" he said, smiling. "'We have certain relations with the United States and we don't want you to harm our relations with your activities.'"

"He said: 'No, I want to continue my activities, I want to struggle for human rights, I believe the United States is violating certain international legal norms, interfering in private life and today my goal is to fight it.'"

Putin and the students chuckled as he said: "We said: 'Only without us. We have other things to fight with.'"

"As soon as he has a chance he may move somewhere and I hope he will do it," the Russian president said. But, he added: "The situation has not reached its final resolution yet."

Russia's attitude toward Snowden has appeared to rise and fall, rotating between suggestions that he might be welcome to stay and impatience that he has not yet left.

Andrei Piontkovsky, a senior researcher at the System Analysis Institute, said Monday that he believed Putin's attitude had hardened after a conversation Friday with President Barack Obama.

"Putin obviously doesn't want to cross the red line in relations with the United States," Piontkovsky said in an interview. "Obama must have found the right arguments not to hurry with granting asylum to Snowden after all."

Putin laid responsibility on the United States for driving Snowden into a corner.

"Our American partners in fact have blocked his flying movements," Putin said. "No other country wants to take him."

On Friday, Snowden met with a group of Russian lawyers and rights activists in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo-2 airport, where he apparently has been confined since his arrival in Russia more than three weeks ago. He appealed to them to vouch for him with Putin to be granted asylum in Russia.

Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who was part of the group, said Monday that the delay in Snowden's formal application for asylum was caused by the fugitive's ignorance of Russian laws.

"Before writing an application for a political asylum he must know Russian legislation and know how to do it," Kucherena said.

"Today," Kucherena added, "he knows nothing ... and doesn't know what to do."

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saywhatyouthink wrote:
A traitor and a now apparently, a defector too. No one will take him except the nut cases in latin america, none of which can protect him. Only china and russia have that capability and neither will sacrifice their relations with the US for him. He apparently didn't think this through before betraying is country.
on July 15,2013 | 10:18PM
poipoo wrote:
Pretty much spot-on comment. He probably feels safer with the Russians than the Che guys, though I'm not sure why he would think that the USA will leave him alone.
on July 16,2013 | 12:57AM
Papakolea wrote:
Russia doesn't want him in the country because they already have the information that's on the hard disks. Snowden is of no further use to the Russians. The more he passes out his info, the less valuable he is to any country that wants to offer him asylum.
on July 15,2013 | 11:58PM
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