WASHINGTON -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement he acknowledged sounded odd, told reporters in Moscow that American analyst-turned-leaker Edward Snowden would have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted asylum in Russia -- and he added that Snowden seemed unwilling to stop publishing leaks of classified material. At the same time, Putin said that he had no plans to turn over Snowden to the United States.
President Barack Obama brushed aside sharp European criticism Monday, suggesting that all nations spy on each other as the French and Germans expressed outrage over alleged U.S. eavesdropping on European Union diplomats.
Snowden, believed to still be at Moscow's international airport, has applied for political asylum to remain in Russia.
A statement purportedly by him and posted Monday on the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks' website criticized Obama for "using citizenship as a weapon." "Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person," the statement continued. "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."
The statement could not be independently authenticated as Snowden's.
Obama, speaking during a visit to Tanzania, said the U.S. would provide allies with information about new reports that the National Security Agency had bugged EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels. But he also suggested such activity by governments would hardly be unusual. "We should stipulate that every intelligence service -- not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there's an intelligence service -- here's one thing that they're going to be doing: They're going to be trying to understand the world better, and what's going on in world capitals around the world," he said.
The latest issue concerns allegations of U.S. spying on European officials in the German news weekly Der Spiegel. French President Francois Hollande Monday demanded that the U.S. immediately stop any such eavesdropping and suggested the widening controversy could jeopardize next week's opening of delicate trade talks between the United States and the European Union.
Obama said the Europeans "are some of the closest allies that we have in the world." But "I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That's how intelligence services operate."
Nonetheless, Obama said he told his advisers to "evaluate everything that's being claimed" and promised to share the results with allies.
The U.S. has annulled his passport, and Ecuador, where Snowden hoped to get asylum, has been giving mixed signals about offering him shelter.
According to WikiLeaks, Snowden also has applied for asylum in 19 other countries: Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.