by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Chief Visionary Founder & Owner
June 28, 2013 (TSR) – Russia said that U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has a chance to receive political asylum from Moscow if he requests it.
“It can be considered by the President if Mr. Snowden files such a request,” Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, told the Interfax news agency.
Fedotov noted that he approached the situation from the perspective of human rights protection rather than foreign policy.
“A person, disclosing secrets concealed by special services, if these secrets are a threat to millions of people … such a person does deserve political asylum in this or that country,” he said.
Snowden, charged by the U.S. government with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act, arrived in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on June 23. He could neither cross the Russian border, nor buy another air ticket out since he does not have a Russian visa while his passport was annulled.
“I think it will be the right thing to do if they do grant him asylum,” Fedotov said, adding the whistleblower “must be under the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees throughout this procedure.”
Russia asks Snowden to help probe US espionage
“We invite Edward Snowden to work with us and hope that as soon as he settles his legal status, he will collaborate with our working group and provide us with proof of US intelligence agencies’ access to the servers of Internet firms,” Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency quoted Senator Ruslan Gattarov as saying on Thursday.
Snowden is wanted by the United States on charges that are based on his extraction of classified documents from servers of the NSA – a move that led to revelations about the spy agency’s espionage programs, targeting millions of people.
Gattarov’s remarks come a day after Russia’s upper house of parliament decided to establish a special working group to launch a probe into Snowden’s claims. Gattarov will lead the group.
He told RIA Novosti that the group will include legislators, diplomats, prosecutors and communications officials. The preliminary results of its investigation are expected to be released in October.
Meanwhile, Kirill Kabanov, who is a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Human Rights Council, has said that he had asked his colleagues to consider asking the Russian government to give Snowden political asylum.
The council’s chairman, Mikhail Fedotov, said the request would be considered and put to a vote.
Snowden, whose passport is revoked by Washington, has asked Ecuador for asylum. On June 24, Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry confirmed earlier they had received an asylum request from Snowden, but there would be no quick decision on whether to grant him asylum status. Furthermore, Snowden needs to be in an Ecuadorian domain in order for them to process it.
However, President Rafael Correa, who previously has hailed Snowden for exposing US spying, and has earned kudos for defying Washington pressure over the affair, reduced Snowden’s chances of making it to Quito. He halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday. Amid signs Quito was cooling down on the Snowden’s case and irritated with Assange’s lack of respect for protocol, Correa declared invalid and unauthorised a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that he would also consider an asylum request from Snowden if the country received one.
Washington has recently threatened Ecuador and warned the state against granting asylum to the US whistleblower.
The US officials said any green light to Snowden would damage trade and economic ties between the two states.
Some 50 Percent of Ecuador export goes to the United States.
As response, Ecuador renounced its US trade pact as it refuses to be blackmailed and have its national sovereignty undermine by Washington.