Conflict & Justice

NSA Leak: Russia Says It Would Consider Asylum for Snowden

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REUTERS

Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in this illustration photo June 11, 2013. Snowden, who leaked details of top-secret U.S. surveillance programs, dropped out of sight in Hong Kong on Monday ahead of a likely push by the U.S. government to have him sent back to the United States to face charges. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA) - RTX10JI6

Russia is entering the story on Edward Snowden. Tuesday, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin indicated that Russia would consider granting asylum for the National Security Agency contractor who leaked secret US surveillance secrets.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The Guardian newspaper's Moscow correspondent, Miriam Elder, said the Kremlin's attempt to woo Snowden is part of a plan "to position itself as a potential home for anyone who wants to reject the west."

Earlier this year, Putin welcomed Gerard Depardieu to Russia when the french actor wanted to escape France's high taxes.

"This is a place," said Elder, "where freedoms are protected and if the west is out to get you, you can come (to Russia) and find out what you really want."

"Of course, that is not true," said Elder, "because Russia has a terrible record dealing with its own whistle blowers."

Sergei Magnitsky was 37 when he died in prison following charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Investigative journalist Mikhail Beketov also died after he was attacked for blowing the whistle on Russian corruption.

Snowden has not requested asylum in Russia. He's indicated that he would want to go to a country that shares similar values, which Elder said, Russia doesn't.

"The most interesting part of this story is that Russia has been trying to manipulate it's image to its advantage," said Elder.

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