Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:18AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama
After American whistleblower Edward Snowden applied for asylum in Russia, US President Barack Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the case.
The White House said on Friday that Obama spoke to Putin about the National Security Agency leaker without giving further details about the content of the talks, the Associated Press reported.
Washington’s phone call came after Snowden decided to seek temporary refuge in Russia. A Russian official revealed Snowden’s intention after meeting with him in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded by saying Snowden could stay in Russia if he stops issuing leaks that harm the United States.
The Obama administration reacted angrily to Moscow’s response, warning Russia against giving Snowden a “propaganda platform.”
“Providing a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday.
“It’s also incompatible with Russian assurances that they do not want Mr. Snowden to further damage US interests,” Carney added.
Human rights groups say the Obama administration is violating the whistleblower’s right to have his asylum request considered fairly.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Human Rights Program Director Jamil Dakwar accused the US of having “improperly interfered” with Snowden’s asylum rights.
Human Rights Watch General Counsel Dinah PoKempner said Snowden “should be allowed at least to make that claim and have it heard.”
WikiLeaks also slammed the latest White House interference to reassert that Snowden should not be returned to the United States to face trial.
“This further proves the United States Government’s persecution of Mr. Snowden,” the group said, “and therefore that his right to seek and accept asylum should be upheld.”
Snowden, who is charged with espionage in the United States, leaked confidential information that showed the NSA collects data of phone records and Internet communication of American citizens.