Edward Snowden should find another country to seek refuge, a Russian official said on Thursday, signaling Moscow’s growing impatience over the former U.S. agency spy contractor’s lengthening stay at a Moscow airport.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia had received no request for political asylum from Snowden and he had to solve his problems himself after 11 days in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
President Vladimir Putin has refused to extradite the American and Russian officials have delighted in his success in staying out of the United States’ clutches since revealing details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs.
But Moscow has also made clear that Snowden is an increasingly unwelcome guest because the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.
“He needs to choose a place to go,” Ryabkov told Reuters.
“As of this moment, we do not have a formal application from Mr Snowden asking for asylum in the Russian Federation”, he added.
Ryabkov told Itar-Tass news agency separately that Russia “cannot solve anything for him” and the situation should now be resolved “one way or the other”.
His remarks echoed comments by President Vladimir Putin, who has urged Snowden, 30, to leave as soon as he can.
France and Italy, both U.S. allies, said they had rejected asylum requests from Snowden.