Edward Snowden will be leaving Russia ... just as soon as he can, Vladimir Putin said today. Russia will offer the NSA leaker political asylum only if he agrees to stop "harming" the US with his activities, and Putin discussed the possibility of Snowden agreeing to that condition today. Some of Putin's quotes from Russia Today, which are a bit unclear, to say the least:
- "He is familiar with the conditions of granting political asylum, and judging by the latest statements, is shifting his position. The situation is not clear now."
- Putin says Russian officials told Snowden, "There are certain relations between Russia and United States, (and) we would not like you to harm them with your activity." Putin continues: "He said no. You are laughing now, but I am serious. He said, 'I want to continue my activity, to fight for human rights and think that US is violating certain regulations, international, intervene in private life and my goal to fight this.'"
Reuters' take: Putin thinks Snowden is shifting toward agreeing to stop his "political activity" against the US. But Putin also said, "As soon as there is an opportunity for him to move elsewhere, I hope he will do that." One thing is clear: Putin has no idea what's next for Snowden. "How should I know? That's his life, his fate," Putin said when asked. Though Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have offered asylum to the leaker, Putin notes that the US has basically blocked Snowden's movements and "spooked all the other countries; nobody wants to take him," thus forcing him to remain in Russia.