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Snowden withdraws Russian asylum request over Putin's comments

Russia's leader had said Monday that Edward Snowden could stay in Russia as long as he stopped "his work aimed at harming our American partners."

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden
Guardian/Screenshot by CNET

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has decided against seeking political asylum in Russia.

A Russian government spokesman said Tuesday that Snowden has withdrawn his request following President Vladimir Putin's statements on the matter Monday. In a statement to reporters, Putin said that he would allow Snowden to remain in Russia as long as Snowden stopped "his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips."

Snowden has reportedly filed for political asylum in 15 countries, but is still holed up in the transit section of Russia's Sheremetyevo airport. The U.S. is attempting to have him extradited back to the States, where he has been charged with espionage after leaking NSA information to the public. Russia, however, has no extradition treaty with the U.S., and Putin said Monday that he would not turn Snowden over to U.S. government officials.

Snowden sent a letter Monday to the Ecuadorian government, saying that he was still free and could continue to publish information, and he was grateful to Ecuador for that.

"I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest," Snowden wrote in a letter to President Rafael Correa. "No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realize a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank."