Russia should grant Edward Snowden political asylum, because he is a human rights defender and could face the death penalty in the United States, the speaker of Russia's lower house said Friday.
"I consider Edward Snowden a human rights defender, who advocates for the rights of millions of people in the world," speaker of the State Duma Sergei Naryshkin told the Rossiya-24 state news channel.
"The United States, which is demanding his handover, uses such measures as the death penalty and the risk is great that this punishment awaits Edward Snowden. We do not have the right to let it happen. So I believe that Russia should give Snowden political asylum, or temporary asylum," he said.
Edward Snowden could stay in Russia if he stops issuing leaks that damage the United States, the Kremlin said Friday after the US fugitive told rights activists in a Moscow airport that he is seeking asylum in Russia.
"Mr. Snowden could hypothetically stay in Russia if he: first, completely stops the activities harming our American partners and US-Russian relations and second, if he asks for this himself," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments quoted by Russian news agencies.
According to lawyer Genri Reznik who was present at a meeting at Moscow airport with Snowden and spoke to reporters afterwards, the fugitive "promised that he would not act to harm the United States".