While hardly coming as news to anyone who could have read the tea leaves as soon as Snowden boarded the plane from Hong Kong to Moscow, the flashing red headline that the NSA whistleblower has just applied to be Depardieu's neighbor, has just escalated the great US foreign policy snafu that started a month ago with the NSA spying revelations, and has since developed into a huge scandal involving Europe, Russia, China, Hong Kong, and virtually every other country (not to mention US citizens) that the US government is spying on.
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And with Putin saying there is no chance he will return Snowden to the US, in response to Obama's demands, suddenly the balance of power shifts to Russia's favor (which by now it is almost certain, knows everything that Snowden does).
Ball is now in Putin's court. Just where he likes it.
The Interfax news agency says a Russian consular official has confirmed that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden asked for political asylum in Russia.
Interfax cited Kim Shevchenko, the duty officer at the Russian Foreign Ministry's consular office in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, as saying that Snowden's representative, Sarah Harrison, handed over his request Sunday.
Snowden has been caught in legal limbo in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23. The U.S. has annulled his passport, and Ecuador, where he has hoped to get asylum, has been coy about offering him shelter.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin says Snowden will have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wants to get asylum in Russia, but adds that Snowden has no plan to quit doing so.