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Rediff.com  » News » India has no interest in Snowden, will not offer him asylum

India has no interest in Snowden, will not offer him asylum

July 02, 2013 12:29 IST

The Government of India has no strategic interest in Edward Snowden, a former private contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency who leaked details of America's controversial secret surveillance programme. Sources told rediff.com that India has not received any formal request from the whistleblower and even if there was one, the government was not keen on accepting it.   

The United States has slapped espionage and theft charges on Snowden. He is currently holed up in a hotel at the Moscow airport.     

“This is a matter between Russia and the US now. The Russians will not spring a surprise and fly him to India,” an official pointed out. “We would want the US to sort out the matter with the Russians and not drag us into this for now.”

Snowden's asylum has been sought in 20 countries including India, by Sarah Harrison, legal advisor of WikiLeaks, the whistle-blower website which has extended support to him. 

There is nothing to show that the request was a formal one. Moreover, Snowden is in Russia with no travel documents, said a government official. The Russians could fly him out to avoid problems for themselves, but taking into view our friendly relations, they will not send him to India. “There is no backdoor deal with the Russians regarding Snowden since he is not of any strategic interest to us,” the official said. 

However, India does have a provision to allow him into the country, although a right to entry into India is not a fundamental right. According to the official, Snowden was used by the Chinese to expose the US and he was then pushed into Moscow.

Image: A woman holds up a sign at a support rally for Edward Snowden in New York

Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

Vicky Nanjappa