iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Agence France-Presse
New Delhi, July 02, 2013
India has turned down a request for asylum from fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, the external affairs ministry said on Tuesday. "Our embassy in Moscow did receive a communication dated 30 June from Mr Edward Snowden. That communication did contain a request for asylum," foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

The MEA said on twitter: "Indian Embassy in Moscow did receive a request for asylum in a communication dated 30 June from Edward Snowden."

"Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request," tweets @AkbarMEA.

Transparency campaign group Wikileaks said Monday that Snowden had submitted asylum requests to 21 nations including India and Russia.

Snowden, whose passport has been revoked by the US, has been holed up and in legal limbo in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for more than a week trying to find a safe haven.

The Kremlin announced Tuesday that he had abandoned his bid to stay in Russia after learning of demands from President Putin that he stop leaking intelligence reports.

The US wants him extradited so he can be tried for the leak of information detailing a vast US Internet and phone surveillance programme.

Snowden, whose US passport has been cancelled, remains holed up in Moscow airport where he has sought asylum from 21 countries, including India.

WikiLeaks disclosed on Monday that Snowden had prepared requests for asylum in countries including Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, the French Republic, Germany, India, the Italian Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, Spain, the Swiss Confederation and the Venezuela

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid has defended the vast US surveillance programme under which India is the fifth most tracked country, saying, "it is not actually snooping".

"This is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping on specifically on content of anybody's message or conversation", Khurshid, who is currently in Brunei to attend series of ASEAN meetings, told reporters.

"Some of the information they (the US) got out of their scrutiny, they were able to use it to prevent serious terrorist attacks in several countries," he said.

The remarks are in contrast with that of the ministry, which had initially termed as "unacceptable" any privacy violation after whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA, had blown the lid off US' National Security Agency's secret spy programme.

As per the leaked documents, India has emerged as the fifth most tracked country by the US intelligence which used a secret data-mining programme to monitor worldwide internet data.

Meanwhile, quoting the latest documents provided by Snowden, The Guardian newspaper reported over the weekend that US intelligence services were also spying on 38 embassies and diplomatic missions of its allies that included India.

The comments by Khurshid, who met US secretary of state John Kerry in New Delhi in June 2013, contrast with India's initial reaction when a foreign ministry spokesman warned that any privacy violation would be "unacceptable."

He is attending an Asian security forum in Brunei, along with Kerry and regional foreign ministers.

Based on documents provided by Snowden, The Guardian newspaper reported at the weekend that US intelligence services were also spying on 38 embassies and diplomatic missions of its allies including India.

File photo of Edward Snowden. (AFP Photo)

Snowden had earlier sought asylum in Russia as well. However, Kremlin has claimed that Snowden has abandoned his asylum request in Russia.

Read more: Whistleblower protection non-existent in India

The requests were given to a Russian official at the airport and were to be delivered to the appropriate embassies in Moscow.