Russia says Snowden can stay if he stops leaking intelligence.
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier Monday that Snowden would have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted to be granted asylum in Russia, where Snowden has been hiding out for eight days.
Putin insisted that Russia is not going to extradite Snowden to the USA, refusing a demand from President Obama that he be handed over to the USA to face charges of espionage.
"There is one condition if he wants to remain here: He must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as it may sound coming from me," Putin told a news conference in Moscow.
"Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so," Putin said, adding that Snowden, "should choose his final destination and go there."
Snowden released a statement Monday through the web site Wikileaks critical of Obama for asking Russia to send him back after he said the president vowed not to engage in "wheeling and dealing" over his return.
"This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile," stated Snowden, who U.S. passport has been revoked. "These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me."
Obama said last week that he would not offer special inducements to other nations over a routine matter of law enforcement that should be honored as part of international law. He has said the NSA secret surveillance programs that Snowden made public are legal and proper, aimed only at disrupting terrorist plots.
Snowden insisted Monday he is a whistle-blower who should be allowed to go where he pleases and compared himself to Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is being court-martialed for sending secret diplomatic communications on Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks.
The 30-year-old Snowden still appears to be holed up in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he landed after fleeing Hong Kong. Interfax news agency quoted consular desk official Kim Shevchenko as saying that British citizen Sarah Harrison -- an aide to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange -- asked the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday to grant Snowden political asylum.
The reported request comes after Ecuador hedged on whether it would grant Snowden protection as it has Assange, who is hiding out in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape charges. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Snowden had given Russian diplomats a list of 15 countries to which he would like to apply for political asylum.
Meanwhile, Germany's federal prosecutor says it is launching a preliminary inquiry into allegations from Snowden that U.S. intelligence agencies tapped European communication channels.
German news weekly Der Spiegel set off a diplomatic row when it reported that the NSA had bugged EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels. The report cited secret U.S. documents allegedly obtained by the Snowden before he fled the United States.
Germany said it planned to call in the U.S. ambassador for an explanation over the "breach in trust."
"We're no longer in the Cold War," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told USA TODAY. "Eavesdropping on friends is unacceptable."
Seibert said the government will assess the facts to determine whether there had been a breach of national security. Secretary of State John Kerry said he did know all the particulars about allegations that the U.S. bugged EU offices. But he says many nations engaged in international affairs undertake lots of different kinds of activities to protect their national interests.
"The (German) foreign ministry must be shocked and horrified that it was put in with that company," said Ben Tonra, a professor at the University College Dublin who specializes on European security issues.
Tonra said European leaders are well aware that all governments including their own spy on each other, but the revelations if accurate could force European governments to react publicly in ways that harm relations.
Other European officials reacted angrily to Der Spiegel reports that the NSA was spying on the European Union including the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels -- home to the European Council.
"We still need more information, but If it's true, it's a huge scandal," said Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament. "It means a huge strain on relations between the EU and the U.S. and we now demand a comprehensive explanation."
Snowden indicated he may reveal more about the NSA programs that he gained access to while working for a private contractor that provided analytical services to the NSA.
"I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest," Snowden said in an undated Spanish-language letter sent to President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, seen by Reuters.