Russia may grant asylum for CIA whistleblower

Moscow, June 11 (IANS) Russia may grant political asylum to a former CIA whistleblower who has revealed Washington's highly classified global surveillance programMEs, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

"If we receive such a request, we'll consider it," business daily Kommersant quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying, Xinhua said.

Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked to the Guardian last week details of how the US National Security Agency (NSA) "traced" millions of netizens worldwide, saying his goal was to inform US citizens on how the government gathers private information under the so-called Patriot Act of 2001.

Offering asylum to a former technical assistant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who revealed his identity in Hong Kong May 20 and checked out of a local hotel on Monday, would benefit the entire international community, a Russian expert said.

"Russia, as a sovereign state, can offer asylum to anyone it considers to be right," Chief Editor of the Moscow's National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko told Xinhua.

"In that particular case, Moscow offers protection to a person who has acted in the interests of the entire mankind," Korotchenko added.

Snowden previously served a number of roles in the intelligence community, including as a former technical assistant with the CIA and with several outside contractors.

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