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India says no to Snowden request

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, July 2, 2013, DHNS: 2:36 IST
US whistleblower Edward Snowden. File Reuters Image
New Delhi has turned down US whistleblower Edward Snowden’s plea for asylum, with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid pointing out that India has a very restrictive and objective policy on the issue.

“India has a very careful and restrictive policy on asylums. We have given asylums in the past, but we are not an open house for asylum seekers. We have a very careful and objective policy,” Khurshid told journalists in Bandar Seri Begawan on Tuesday.

Khurshid, who attended the East Asia Summit ministerial and the Asean Regional Forum in the capital of Brunei Darussalam on Tuesday, was reacting to the WikiLeaks’ claim that Snowden, now sheltered in the transit zone of the Moscow Airport, had sought asylum in about 20 countries, including India.

Official spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, told journalists in New Delhi that the Embassy of India in Moscow had received a communication from Snowden, which contained a request for asylum. “We have carefully examined the request. Following that examination, we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the request,” said Akbaruddin.

Snowden worked for the US National Security Agency (NSA) as a technical contractor before he escaped to Hong Kong last month with laptops full of confidential information. He is believed to be currently holed up in the Moscow Airport’s transit zone since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.

He leaked many documents that exposed a systematic and large-scale surveillance of phone and internet communications by the NSA around the world.

WikiLeaks on Tuesday claimed that its legal adviser Sarah Harrison filed asylum requests on behalf of Snowden to 20 countries, including India and Russia.

Harrison, according to the WikiLeaks, submitted the asylum requests through a consular official of the Russian Government at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.

Khurshid on Tuesday also sought to play down reports that the NSA had also put the embassies of India and other countries in Washington under surveillance.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted sharply to the revelation on Monday, with her spokesperson stating that “bugging friends” were “unacceptable” for Berlin.

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