Because Snowden’s U.S. passport has been revoked, the logistics of him departing are complicated.
Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have made asylum offers over the past two days, but the three countries haven’t indicated they would help Snowden by issuing a travel document, which he would need to leave Russia.
The former NSA systems analyst, who is charged with violating U.S. espionage laws, is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s main international airport after arriving June 23 from Hong Kong.
Russia doesn’t appear willing to help him leave the airport, with Kremlin spokesman Alexei Pavlov saying Saturday the issue of Snowden’s travel documents is “not our business.”
President Vladimir Putin said Snowden would be offered asylum in Russia if he stopped leaking U.S. secrets. Snowden then withdrew his Russian asylum bid, an official said.
While President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying in June he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets” to capture him, senior U.S. officials have used unusually harsh language in saying they want him back.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said China had “unquestionably” damaged its relationship with Washington for not returning Snowden, who recently turned 30, from semi-autonomous Hong Kong while he was still there.
“The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,” Carney said. “We think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem.”
China may be reluctant to further complicate its relationship with the U.S. by allowing Snowden back in Hong Kong, even if only to transfer to Latin America.
Snowden has asked for asylum in more than 20 countries and many have turned him down.