Snowden has ‘Plan B’ in case of being caught
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen in this file still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 6, 2013. REUTERS PhotoThe U.S. leaker Edward Snowden has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old company to several people and if anything happens to him, the files will be unlocked.
A journalist from the British daily Guardian, Glenn Greenwald, who Snowden first contacted in February, said Snowden had taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world had these archives to insure the stories would be published, according to the Daily Beast website.
Snowden asylum decision could take time: Ecuador
Ecuador could take weeks to decide on an asylum bid by fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the South American country's foreign minister Ricardo Patino told reporters on Wednesday.
Snowden, who leaked information about massive US surveillance programmes to gather phone and Internet data, deeply embarrassing the administration of President Barack Obama, is in Moscow's airport awaiting word on his Ecuador asylum bid.
"It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time," Patino, who is on a brief stop in Malaysia, said in a reference to WikiLeaks site founder Julian Assange.
Assange, whose site stunned and embarrassed Washington with the release of top-secret US diplomatic cables, was granted asylum by Ecuador and has been holed up in its embassy in London for a year.
In a visit to Vietnam on Tuesday, Patino said Ecuador was weighing Snowden's asylum bid. But he also defended Snowden's actions, saying they "shed light" on US practices.
Putin says Snowden at Moscow airport, rejects extradition
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden as " a free man," confirming that he is still in a Moscow airport transit zone and rejecting calls for his extradition to the United States.
In his first comments about the chase for Snowden that has captivated world attention, Putin on Tuesday said the former CIA agent's arrival in Moscow from Hong Kong was "completely unexpected" for the Russian authorities. The dramatic announcement ended two days of guessing over the whereabouts of the fugitive, who leaked revelations of massive US surveillance programmes to the media and is now wanted by Washington.
"It is true that Mr. Snowden came to Moscow," Putin said at a news conference while on a visit to Finland. "For us, this was completely unexpected." "He arrived as a transit passenger and he does not need a visa or other documents. He can buy a ticket and go wherever he pleases. He did not cross the state border, as a transit passenger he is still in the transit hall," Putin added. Snowden had been expected to board a flight for Cuba on Monday, reportedly on his way to seek asylum in Ecuador. But he never did and Putin appeared to confirm that he was still uncertain over his onward travel plans.
"Mr. Snowden is a free man, the sooner he selects his final destination point, the better for us and for himself," he said.
US 'threats' to Russia on Snowden will fail: lawmaker
The United States is applying "ill-considered" pressure on Russia and China to expel fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden that will only serve to move Moscow and Beijing closer together, a top Russian lawmaker warned Wednesday.
"The threats from the United States towards Russia and China over the Snowden case will not give results, but will just strengthen closer ties between Moscow and Beijing," tweeted Alexei Pushkov, who heads the lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee.
He added that the US was applying "ill-considered pressure" in the case that threatens to damage relations between Washington, Moscow and Beijing at a time they are seeking common ground over the crisis in Syria.
Pushkov's comments came after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complained of what he called "threats" from US officials over Snowden's case.
'Groundless and unacceptable'
Snowden had been expected to travel on with the state carrier Aeroflot on Monday to Havana, but never appeared on the flight, sending dozens of journalists on a fruitless 10-hour plane ride.
There have been no sightings of Snowden in the airport, located north-west of Moscow, despite many film crews stationed there.
The leftist Latin American state of Ecuador has said it was considering a request he made for asylum and Assange said Snowden was "safe" after leaving Hong Kong with a refugee document supplied by Ecuador.
On Tuesday Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro also said he would consider an asylum request from Snowden.
"We have not received an official request. But in the event we were to receive one, we would evaluate it as we understand Ecuador is doing," Maduro said during an official visit to Haiti.
Snowden abandoned his high-paying intelligence contractor job in Hawaii and went to Hong Kong on May 20 to begin issuing a series of leaks on the NSA gathering of phone call logs and Internet data, triggering concern from governments around the world.
Hong Kong, a special administrative region under Chinese rule that has maintained its own British-derived legal system, said the US government request to arrest him did not fully comply with Hong Kong legal requirements.
But White House spokesman Jay Carney lashed out at Beijing over its purported role in the affair, saying China's failure to "honour extradition obligations" had dealt a "serious setback" to efforts to build trust with new President Xi Jinping.
Meanwhile Snowden told the South China Morning Post in a story published Tuesday that he joined contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, from which he stole secrets on NSA surveillance programs, specially to gain access to sensitive information and spill it to the press.