President Barack Obama brushed aside sharp European criticism Monday, suggesting that all nations spy on one another as the French and Germans expressed outrage over alleged U.S. eavesdropping on European Union diplomats. American analyst-turned-leaker Edward Snowden, believed to still be at Moscow’s international airport, applied for political asylum to remain in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement he acknowledged sounded odd, told reporters in Moscow that 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.
A statement purportedly by Snowden and posted Monday on the Wikileaks website criticized Obama for “using citizenship as a weapon. The statement could not be independently authenticated as being from Snowden himself.
Obama, in a news conference with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, 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.