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Obama speaks direct to Putin about Edward Snowden as whistleblower seeks temporary asylum in Russia

Published: July 13, 2013
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Source: London Telegraph

The American whistleblower Edward Snowden has sought asylum in Russia, in his first encounter with the outside world since becoming marooned at a Moscow airport three weeks ago during a globe-trotting flight from charges of espionage.

His move prompted President Barack Obama to pick up the phone and call Russian President Vladimir Putin directly, presumably to demand the return of the 30-year-old former analyst at the National Security Agency, who came from nowhere last month to trigger one of the biggest intelligence leaks in American history.

Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, warned Russia against allowing Mr Snowden a “propaganda platform” by letting him stay in the country. No exact details of the conversation have been disclosed, but Snowden was among the topics the leaders discussed, with security relations and counterterrorism preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi also discussed covered.

Caey said such granting Snowden asylum would “run counter” to Moscow’s assurances that it did not want the affair to harm US-Russia relations. He renewed Washington’s call on Russia to expel Mr Snowden so that he could be returned to American soil to face trial for leaking US national security secrets.

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