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Russia more impatient over Snowden's stay

Agencie | Updated: 2013-07-05 08:16

MOSCOW - Edward Snowden should find another country to seek refuge in, a Russian official said on Thursday, signalling Moscow's growing impatience over the former US spy agency contractor's stay at a Moscow airport.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia had received no request for political asylum from Snowden and he had to solve his problems himself after 11 days in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

President Vladimir Putin has refused to extradite the American and Russian officials have delighted in his success in staying out of the United States' clutches since revealing details of secret US government surveillance programmes.

But Moscow also has made clear that Snowden is an increasingly unwelcome guest because the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

"He needs to choose a place to go," Ryabkov told Reuters. "As of this moment, we do not have a formal application from Mr Snowden asking for asylum in the Russian Federation."

Ryabkov told Itar-Tass news agency separately that Russia "cannot solve anything for him" and the situation should now be resolved "one way or the other".

His remarks echoed comments by Putin, who has urged Snowden, 30, to leave as soon as he can.

France and Italy, both US allies, said they had rejected asylum requests from Snowden.

"Like many countries France has received, via its ambassador in Moscow, an asylum request from Edward Snowden. For legal reasons and given the applicant's situation, it will not be processed," Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement.

Valls had said earlier that France's relations with the United States would not allow it to harbour Snowden.

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said any asylum request would have to be presented in person at the border or on Italian territory, which Snowden had not done.

"As a result there do not exist the legal conditions to accept such a request, which in the government's view would not be acceptable on a political level either," she told parliament.

On Monday, Putin said Snowden could only be granted asylum by Moscow if he agreed to stop actions that could harm the United States.

Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday that Snowden had withdrawn his interest in asylum in Russia after Putin spelled out the terms. His options have narrowed further since then as no country has agreed to grant him asylum.

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