After American whistle-blower Edward Snowden, currently sheltered in the transit zone of Moscow airport, sought asylum in India and 19 other countries, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Tuesday that India is not an open house for asylums.
Khurshid said it was not in his knowledge that Snowden has requested asylum. "I wouldn't want to comment on something that is, maybe, just hearsay," Khurshid said.
“India has given asylums in past, but we are not an open house for asylums since we have a very careful and objective policy," he added.
These asylum requests have been filed by Sarah Harrison, legal advisor of Wikileaks in the matter of Snowden, the whistle-blower website said on Tuesday, adding that the first two requests were made to Ecuador, followed by Iceland.
"On 30th June 2013 WikiLeaks' legal advisor in the Edward Snowden matter, Sarah Harrison, submitted by hand a number of requests for asylum and asylum assistance on behalf of Edward J Snowden," Wikileaks said in a statement.
"The requests were delivered to an official at the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow late in the evening," it said, adding the documents outline the risks of persecution Snowden faces in the US and have started to be delivered by the Russian consulate to the relevant embassies in Moscow.
The requests were made to a number of countries including Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italian, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Swiss Confederation, Venezuela.
The Obama Administration has warned countries not to give asylum to Snowden arguing that he is wanted in the US on charges of espionage and leaking classified information.
The US yesterday said Snowden, whose passport has been revoked, would be given a fair trial and enjoys all the rights of an American citizen.
"We're prepared to issue one-entry travel documents. He's still a US citizen. He still enjoys the rights of his US citizenship, which include the right to a free and fair trial for the crimes he's been accused of," State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
"He (Snowden) enjoys the rights and responsibilities of any US citizen, including the right to a free and fair trial under our Constitution," he said, adding that "He has a country to return to, which is the United States of America."
Snowden worked for the NSA before he fled 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 is wanted in the US on the charges of espionage and leaking classified documents. Documents leaked by him last month exposed a systematic and large-scale surveillance of phone and internet communications by the NSA around the world.
According to his leaks, the Indian Embassy in the US is among the list of 38 diplomatic missions which were being spied upon by American intelligence agencies.
(With PTI inputs)
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