Moscow appears to be in no rush to make up its mind. On Saturday, Russian officials insisted former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden had not filed a formal request for asylum. A day earlier, the leaker broke three weeks of silence to say he would seek temporary refuge in Russia until he could secure safe passage to Latin America. The statements by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Saturday “signaled Russia is weighing its options,” points out Reuters. Snowden had previously requested asylum in Russia but President Vladimir Putin said it would only be considered if he agreed to stop leaking information. At the time, Snowden withdrew his application, but now appears ready to agree to those demands, notes the Associated Press.
On Friday, Snowden accused the United States of waging a campaign of “historically disproportionate aggression” against him, saying the government is trying “to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have,” reports the Guardian. Snowden also praised Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador for "being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless." Snowden has asked 20 countries for asylum and has received offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia but he said Friday that several Western countries are making it "impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there.”
Snowden’s request for asylum in Russia threatens to further strain relations between Moscow and Washington. Putin and President Obama spoke on Friday and they discussed Snowden, although the White House didn’t release details on what was said. Before the presidents spoke, the White House criticized Russia for providing Snowden with a “propaganda platform” that allowed him to hold a meeting with human rights officials and make a statement to the press, notes the Hill. “Snowden is not a human rights activist or a dissident,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney said. “He is accused of leaking classified information, has been charged with three felony counts, and should be returned to the United States, where he will be afforded full due process.”