News Column

Snowden Denies Passing Intelligence to China, Russia

July 10, 2013

U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden has denied passing secrets to Chinese or Russian intelligence services, according to the author who first published Snowden's revelations.

Writing in the British daily The Guardian on Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald reported that Snowden vehemently denied in two recent interviews that he passed classified information to China or Russia and that neither country managed to drain content from his laptops.

"I never gave any information to either government and they never took anything from my laptops," Snowden was quoted as saying. According to Greenwald, the whistleblower made his denial during two interviews on Saturday and Tuesday.

Greenwald, a Brazil-based blogger and columnist for the London newspaper, was among the first to report about Snowden's leaks on June 6, after being contacted by the former US National Security Agency contractor.

Snowden has not been seen in public since flying from Hong Kong to Moscow on June 23.

The fact that he managed to leave the Chinese city despite the US revoking his passport has prompted media speculation that he might have shared information with Chinese intelligence during his month-long stay there.

Snowden is believed to be carrying a trove of classified US information on his four laptops. Washington has charged him with espionage and demands his extradition.

According to the Russian government, Snowden is stuck at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport because he has no valid travel documents and no country has formally offered him asylum.

Russian officials said Wednesday that the situation had reached an impasse and could only be resolved by a foreign host country.

Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the foreign relations committee of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, told the Interfax news agency that the US fugitive's fate needs to be decided with the country that grants him political asylum.

Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries. Only Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have signalled that they are ready to accept him. He has withdrawn a request to Russia, ostensibly after President Vladimir Putin demanded that he stops leaking sensitive US information.

Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, said that Snowden's situation was complicated and that Moscow could do little.

"What can Russia do? He is legally in (Sheremetyevo's) transit zone, like any other transit passenger," she was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Experts say that Moscow is eager to get rid of Snowden, because his case is straining relations with Washington in the run-up to a summit with US President Barack Obama in Moscow in September.

Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow center, said that Russia miscalculated when it allowed Snowden to board the Moscow-bound flight in Hong Kong.

"Russia has gained nothing from the Snowden incident," Trenin wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH