Snowden Withdraws Russia Asylum Request; Nine Countries Deny Application

Things are turning from bad to worse for the real-life version of The Terminal's Edward Snowden, who a day after applying to 21 countries for political asylum has been flooded with rejection letters near and far, even as he was forced to cancel his application to his current host nation, Russia, after being told he would have to stop leaking secrets as a condition to stay. More from the FT: "The 30-year-old fugitive’s options narrowed further on Tuesday when China reacted coolly to the idea of him moving there, Poland rejected an application and other European nations said asylum requests had to be made in the country." 

Of the 21 applicants listed yesterday, so far 9 countries have rejected his asylum status application. These include:

  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Finland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Spain

And with Russia now out of the running too, 10 out of 21 on the original list are out.  The bulk of these countries rejected the application on a technicality, claiming that the applicant must be on their soil before he or she can be granted asylum status.

The countries still remaining on the eligible list include:

  • Bolivia
  • China
  • Cuba
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • the Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Switzerland
  • Venezuela

Of the above 11 Venezuela appears to be his best bet: “[Snowden] deserves the world’s protection. He has not asked us for it yet. When he does we will give our answer,” Venezuela's new president Máduro told Reuters during a visit to Moscow. “We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favour to humanity, has spoken great truths to deconstruct a world that . . . is controlled by an imperialist American elite.” Maduro added that his government had yet to receive a request, despite it being on the WikiLeaks list, but that he sympathised with the man wanted by Washington on spying charges.

What is shocking is how quickly Snowden's original destination, Ecuador, flipped a U-turn on his request. One wonders just what revealing pictures of Correa the NSA must have in its Utah facility.

On Monday, Ecuador which appeared to be Mr Snowden’s destination when he left Hong Kong 10 days ago, on Monday said it was no longer considering his request. “It was a mistake on our part” to have helped him travel to Russia,” President Rafael Correa said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

As for Russia:

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that Mr Snowden “has abandoned this idea and his request for permission to stay in Russia”.

Mr Peskov said Russia had no plans to kick Mr Snowden out of Sheremetyevo airport where has been since June 23. “The extradition of Snowden to such a country as the United States, which applies the death penalty, is impossible,” he said.

However, he suggested that Moscow was not anxious for Mr Snowden to stay, echoing comments on Monday by Mr Putin. “Hypothetically, Snowden could stay in Russia but on one condition – he must abandon his intentions to engage in any form of anti-American activity that could be damaging for the United States,” Mr Peskov said.

Finally, as for China:

The Chinese government dodged questions about Mr Snowden’s application on Tuesday. “I have seen related reports, but I don’t have any information on the issue,” said Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman.


Mo Shaoping, a lawyer for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, said he was not aware of asylum cases in China. “As far as I know, China doesn’t have laws in this area,” he said.

One wonders is Snowden's fate to return to the US, and face a lifetime in prison, if and when all of his purported future homelands give up on him?

* * *

Guardian has released an updated list of where the asylum applicant countries stand currently:


No. The interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said Snowden would have to submit his request for asylum while on Austrian soil. But she added that he would not be deported if he arrived in Austria because "there is no international arrest warrant".


No response.


No. A foreign ministry spokesman said Brazil would not grant asylum, adding that it would leave the request unanswered.


No response.


No response.


No. The president, Rafael Correa, said he was not considering Snowden's asylum request. In an interview with the Guardian, Correa said Snowden would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request. The US has cancelled Snowden's passport, and Correa said his government would not give Snowden an authorised travel document to extract himself from Moscow airport. "The right of asylum request is one thing, but helping someone travel from one country to another – Ecuador has never done this."


No. The Finnish foreign ministry spokeswoman Tytti Pylkkö said Finnish law required Snowden to be in the country for him to apply.


No response. The president, François Hollande, has called for a common EU stance on the NSA snooping.


No response.


No response.


No. Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry, said on Twitter: "Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request"


No response.


No. A spokesman for the department of justice said that under Irish law an asylum application could only be accepted from a person who had landed in or was within the state.

The Netherlands

No response.


No response.


No. The Norwegian deputy justice secretary, Paal Loenseth, told the state broadcaster NRK: "Applying for asylum should be done on Norwegian soil. According to normal procedures … his demand will be denied."


No. The foreign minister, Rados?aw Sikorski, wrote on his Twitter account: "I will not give a positive recommendation."


No. Snowden withdrew his request after Vladimir Putin's statement making clear that he would be welcome only if he stopped "his work aimed at bringing harm" to the United States.


No. The foreign minister, José García-Margallo, told reporters in the Spanish parliament: "For it [the application] to be legally admissible, it has to be made by a person who is in Spain."


No response.


Possible. On a visit to Moscow, the president, Nicolás Maduro, said he would consider an asylum request and said the whistleblower "deserves the world's protection".

"We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favour to humanity, has spoken great truths to deconstruct a world … that is controlled by an imperialist American elite," he said.

But asked whether he would take Snowden back to Venezuela with him, Maduro answered wryly: "What we're taking with us are multiple agreements that we're signing with Russia, including oil and gas."