Snowden flew to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport from Hong Kong on June 23 in the hope of travelling on to a country that would offer him protection from the United States after he divulged details of US government intelligence programs.
Putin said Washington had trapped Snowden by preventing him from reaching other countries that might shelter him but, wary of upsetting Moscow’s former Cold War enemy, has said Russia will grant him political asylum only if he stops actions that could be harmful to the United States.
“As soon as there is an opportunity for him to move elsewhere, I hope he will do that,” Putin said during a visit to Gogland Island in the Gulf of Finland.
“The conditions for (Russia) granting him political asylum are known to him. And judging by his latest actions, he is shifting his position. But the situation has not been clarified yet.”
Snowden, 30, told human rights campaigners on Friday at a meeting in Sheremetyevo’s transit area that he was seeking temporary asylum in Russia until he can travel safely to Latin America, where three countries have said they might take him in.
He has been unable to reach any of those countries – Nicaragua, Venezuela or Bolivia – because there are no direct flights from Moscow and he would risk having his passage barred by the United States and its allies.
The case is an increasingly awkward problem for Putin as Moscow and Washington try to improve relations and he prepares for a summit with President Barack Obama in Moscow in early September, just before a summit of G20 leaders in Russia.
“We have certain relations with the United States and we don’t want you to damage our ties with your activity,” Putin said, referring to Snowden.
“He came to our territory without invitation, we did not invite him. And we weren’t his final destination. He was flying in transit to other states. But the moment he was in the air … our American partners, in fact, blocked his further flight,” Putin said.
Source Associated Press