No legal basis for Russia to take Snowden into custody - source
MOSCOW, June 24 (RAPSI) - The Russian law enforcement authorities still have no grounds for detaining former CIA employee Edward Snowden, a law enforcement source told RIA Novosti on Monday.
"Snowden has not committed any crime in Russia, and the Russian law enforcement agencies have not been instructed to detain him. So there are no grounds for doing so," the source said.
Snowden dominated international headlines this month after claiming responsibility for having leaked top-secret documents to The Guardian, detailing the National Security Agency's (NSA) capacity to access the systems of such major US companies as Google, Facebook, and Apple. Google, Facebook, and Apple have all denied having provided direct or backdoor access to their servers.
After the initial leak, Snowden went on to expose various other types of intelligence, including claims to The Guardian that the NSA had intercepted communications from Medvedev's delegation during the 2009 G20 summit in London, as well as claims during an interview with the South China Morning Post that the US had been hacking into Chinese computers for years.
On June 14, the US authorities charged Snowden under three articles, each of them stipulating punishment of up to 10 years in prison. He has been charged with theft, "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person," according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors.
The latter two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.
Reuters reported that a flight thought to be carrying Snowden landed in Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong and that the whistleblower had allegedly requested asylum in Ecuador.
According to RIA Novosti, US National Security Council Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement on Monday that Russia is expected to consider "all options available" to extradite Snowden.
The report further added that Ecuador's foreign minister confirmed via Twitter Sunday that Snowden had requested asylum in Ecuador.