Russian President Vladimi r Putin says fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden will leave the country as soon as there is an opportunity for him to do so.
Putin said Monday the United States essentially has trapped Snowden in Russian territory by revoking his passport.
"He arrived on our territory without an invitation - we didn't invite him. And he was not flying to us - he was flying in transit to other countries," he said. "But as soon as he got in the air it became known, and our American partners, actually, locked his further flight. They themselves scared other countries."
Snowden has been offered asylum in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but has been stuck for three weeks in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, unable to fly without travel documents.
The U.S. government accuses him of leaking information about classified U.S. National Security Agency surveillance programs, and wants him returned home to face trial.
On Friday, Snowden met with human rights activists at the airport, telling them he is seeking temporary asylum in Russia until he can safely travel to Latin America.
Russian officials say they have not yet received an application from him.