Russian President Vladimir Putin now says he was aware of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s request for Russian asylum while he was still in Hong Kong, of which he had previously denied knowledge, in an interview with Agence France-Presse:
In the interview, Putin revealed for the first time that he had known about Snowden’s request to receive asylum in Russia while he was still in Hong Kong and told him via his aides that he was welcome to arrive in Russia as long as he stopped his leaks.
“He was told about it,” Putin said of Snowden, adding he did not agree to his conditions. “And he left, just left, and that’s it,” he said, referring to the Russian diplomatic mission in Hong Kong which he said Snowden had contacted.
“Then he started flying to Latin America on a plane. I was told that Mr. Snowden was flying to us two hours before the plane’s landing.”
Putin’s revelation comes after he repeatedly stressed that Snowden had turned up in Russia uninvited.
Writer Joshua Foust last week raised the question of whether Wikileaks had been infiltrated by Russian government operatives, and questioned the timelines and peculiarities of the Snowden case. Foust in particular highlighted Snowden’s reported intention of going to Latin America and his eventual destination of Moscow as odd.
Documents obtained by Snowden have continued to be released, including top secret documents about U.S. efforts against al Qaeda, as well as more information about how Snowden secured the information—by electronically impersonating NSA officials in some cases, according to NBC News sources.