Russia has said no. Poland has said no. India has said no. Ecuador might say no. So what’s next for Edward Snowden?
The whistle-blower, who remains idle in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, has requested asylum to over 20 nations, and is yet to receive a positive response from any of them. Russia has reportedly said that it will not hand him over to the American government because of human rights concerns -- but essentially rejected his asylum request nonetheless, by telling him that he stop harming U.S. interests if he is to be granted asylum from Moscow.
“Snowden could stay in the Russian Federation, but with one condition -- that he give up his intention to carry out anti-American actions,” Russian government spokesman Dmitri Peskov told Bloomberg. “As far as we know, he refuses to do so.”
Wikileaks published a list of the 20 countries Snowden has applied for shelter, a decidedly heterogeneous group which includes Latin American countries that aren't friendly with the U.S. (Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba); staunch American allies and members of NATO such as Spain and Italy; European Union members, and even India. Several countries have rejected the asylum request on the basis that the applicant needs to be within the country’s borders to apply (that is the case of most European countries, such as Ireland, Austria and Spain). Poland simply said Snowden did not meet the requirements for political refuge. Indian government spokesman Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that the Indian government saw “no reason” to give Snowden shelter.
Ecuador is the biggest blow to the leaker’s plans. After he was granted a safe-conduct pass that allowed him to leave Hong Kong for Moscow, President Rafael Correa said that his country was no longer considering Snowden’s request and even went so far as to call the safe-conduct pass a “mistake.”
Among the countries that are still considering taking Snowden in are Bolivia, whose president, Evo Morales, has reportedly said he would seriously consider giving the whistle-blower refuge; Venezuela, with President Nicolás Maduro currently in Moscow on an official visit, allegedly considering taking Snowden with him when he leaves; and Germany, whose foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, told reporters that Snowden’s request will be handled “strictly according to the law.” But the German option seems to have vanished too. Not only is Germany the host of several U.S. military bases and a staunch American ally; its finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said, "Snowden isn’t persecuted for political reasons. I respect the laws of the U.S. Asylum cannot be used to evade prosecution.”
According to a statement published by WikiLeaks the U.S. is plotting to have Russia hand Snowden over to the U.S. or send him to a third country, possibly in Western Europe, that would then turn him in to American authorities.
As these scenarios were being discussed, Snowden spoke out for the first time since June 23 through a statement published by WikiLeaks. In it, Snowden said the Obama administration is using his nationality against him: “I am convicted of nothing, but the U.S. government has left me a stateless person.”
Snowden’s U.S. passport was revoked, making it virtually impossible for him to leave Moscow’s airport without help from a third party.