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Snowden: Obama Trying to Block Efforts to Seek Asylum

  • VOA News

FILE - Edward Snowden, who has been working at the National Security Agency for the past four years, speaking during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden has accused President Barack Obama of trying to block his efforts to seek asylum.

In a statement released by the website WikiLeaks, Snowden said Obama has ordered Vice President Joe Biden to pressure the leaders of countries where he has requested asylum to deny his petitions.

The statement marked Snowden's first public announcement since fleeing Hong Kong for Russia eight days ago.

On Monday, a Russian immigration official said Snowden has applied for political asylum in that country. The official said a WikiLeaks activist who is traveling with Snowden handed his application to a Russian consulate in the transit area at Moscow's airport on Sunday. Snowden has been stuck there since arriving from Hong Kong.

Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence contractor, had been thought to be seeking asylum in Ecuador in a bid to escape extradition to the United States, which has annulled his passport.

Also Monday, President Obama played down a related controversy about whether the U.S. had spied on its European allies.

Speaking in Tanzania, Obama said all intelligence services around the world seek to understand what other nations are thinking. He also said the U.S. is evaluating reports in the German weekly Der Spiegel about the surveillance program, and will contact European counterparts to provide the information they are requesting.

European leaders including French President Francois Hollande and EU Parliament President Martin Schulz have expressed anger at allegations the U.S. National Security Agency bugged EU offices and gained access to its internal computer networks.

Snowden fled the U.S. to Hong Kong in May and disclosed key documents about National Security Agency programs to thwart terrorism.

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