New Delhi: US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has sent an asylum request to India and 18 other countries, whistleblower website WikiLeaks has claimed. Snowden continues to remain defiant and has said the US is illegally persecuting him and made it clear that he does not intend to get muzzled.
He has also threatened to leak more documents on America's spying activity, in a letter written to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. Snowden is believed to be stranded at a Moscow airport and has reportedly applied for asylum to Russia as well.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden was welcome to stay but warned him against trying to harm US interests. Meanwhile, the US has stated that Snowden will be granted a one-entry travel document with which he can return to the US and face a fair trial for the crimes he's accused of.
As per the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by Snowden, the Indian Embassy in the US is among the list of 38 diplomatic missions which were being spied upon by American intelligence agencies. US was using a wide range of spying methods including bugging, the Guardian daily in London said quoting the leaked report. "One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as 'targets'.
"It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae," the Guardian said.
Edward Snowden had on Monday hit out at the Barack Obama administration for trying to block his efforts to seek asylum in different countries. "It is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions," Snowden said in a statement published on the WikiLeaks website, referring to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. "This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile."
The United States has been on an international manhunt for Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who faces espionage charges for leaking classified information about secret US phone and Internet surveillance activity. He is believed to be holed up in the transit area of a Moscow airport.
"Although I am convicted of nothing, (the Obama administration) has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person," Snowden said in a statement posted online by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
"Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum... Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me."
(With additional information from Reuters and PTI)