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Diplomacy

European countries not receptive to Snowden asylum requests

US whistleblower Edward Snowden is facing increased hurdles in his attempts for asylum. Believed to be at a Moscow airport, several European countries have said they will not accept asylum requests from abroad.

Officials in Germany, Norway, Austria, Poland, Finland, Spain, Switzerland and India said Tuesday that former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden must make his requests for asylum on their soil.

"Delivering an application for asylum from abroad is in principle not allowed," Norwegian deputy justice secretary Paal Loenseth told state broadcaster NRK. "Applying for asylum should be done on Norwegian soil. According to normal procedures ... his demand will be denied."

Snowden asylum options narrow

Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said Snowden's asylum request had been turned down, saying there were faults but he did not elaborate.

Seeking asylum

The WikiLeaks website published a statement Monday night purportedly from Edward Snowden saying he had asked for asylum in 21 countries, including 13 in Europe.

According to WikiLeaks, Snowden on Sunday formally applied for asylum in India, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Bolivia, Venezuela, China, Nicaragua, Cuba, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Austria.

The 30-year-old former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) also applied for asylum in Russia, where he is currently believed to be situated. But Snowden reportedly withdrew his request after President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that he would grant asylum on the condition that he stopped leaking US secrets, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Snowden is believed to have spent the past week in a transit area at a Moscow airport. Without divulging his whereabouts, he complained in the statement posted by WikiLeaks that he was stateless and trapped. Snowden had stayed silent since his arrival in Russia from Hong Kong.

US hindering asylum hunt?

"The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon," the statement, signed Edward Joseph Snowden, said. "Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person."

The US government said Monday that while Snowden's passport has been cancelled, his citizenship has not been revoked and he could be issued an entry document to return to his native country.

Snowden accused Washington of seeking to stop him from applying for political asylum, a right enshrined in Article 14 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said that it was being reported that, "after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions."

Ecuador's President Raffael Correa said US Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue with him in a weekend phone call. Snowden said Obama was guilty of "deception" and imposing "the extralegal penalty of exile," calling such methods "the old, bad tools of political aggression."

After revealing data on a program known as PRISM that allegedly allowed the NSA and other authorities to access information on users of some of the world's largest online platforms, Snowden is wanted on espionage charges in the US.

He said he had left Hong Kong last week "after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat."

dr,msh/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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