The Slatest

Russia It Is: Edward Snowden Applies for Asylum

Ukrainian Internet Party activists hold a ‘tap the phone and internet lines’ protest on June 27, 2013 outside the US Embassy in Kiev to attract public attention to the violation of rights following the United States Internet surveillance program exposed by former spy Edward Snowden (on photos). Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia.

Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker currently trapped in Moscow’s Sheremyetova Airport with a revoked U.S. passport, has applied for asylum in Russia, reports the New York Times. The move comes after a week of studied equivocation by Russian officials, who are clearly hesitant to upset U.S.–Russian relations by granting the fugitive a safe home. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Snowden “must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners” as a condition for Snowden’s continued Russian residency. (Putin also noted the irony of such a proviso “coming from [his] lips.”)

If Russia doesn’t pan out for Snowden, he has a backup—15, actually. Yet the country heretofore considered Snowden’s best hope, Ecuador, has been increasingly evasive on the matter. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has stated that Snowden must apply for asylum in Ecuador or at an Ecuadorean Embassy, a considerable challenge for a man currently trapped in a Russian airport.

Snowden has been eyeing Ecuador since the beginning of his flight from justice. The country’s London embassy currently houses WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange, whose group has been aiding Snowden in his hunt for asylum.