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Russia foreign minister says Snowden 'needs to choose a place to go'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said his country "cannot solve anything" for Edward Snowden, adding that the NSA leaker "needs to choose a place to go."

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Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked top secret documents revealing a vast surveillance program by the US government to the Guardian newspaper. The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald interviewed Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong and released the video on Sunday June 10, 2013. (YouTube/Screengrab)

Fugitive National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has applied to six more countries for asylum, WikiLeaks announced Friday.

In a message posted on Twitter, WikiLeaks said it would not identify the countries "due to attempted US interference."

More from GlobalPost: What is political asylum? Q & A

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said Snowden will not find asylum on Russian soil and that he'll have to find a solution on his own.

"He needs to choose a place to go," Ryabkov told Reuters on Thursday. "As of this moment, we do not have a formal application from Snowden asking for asylum in the Russian Federation."

Snowden has now spent 11 days in legal limbo at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. He originally applied to 21 nations for asylum, according to WikiLeaks, which is assisting the former defense contractor in his efforts to escape espionage charges in the United States.

Ryabkov also told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency that "our stance is that we cannot decide anything for him until he takes this or that decision, until he makes up his mind what is better for him."

So far none of the original 21 countries have granted Snowden's asylum requests. As Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center told the Financial Times, "The plan has gone awry."

“The original idea was to channel him across Russia to Latin America, but now nobody wants the risk of taking him in. Russia clearly wants to hand him off but there are no takers,” Trenin added.  

Though Ryabkov's comments appear to show Russia is unwilling to risk a costly diplomatic row with the US over Snowden, the Kremlin has remained firm in its commitment not to extradite him.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130704/russia-cools-snowden-foreign-minister-he-needs-choose-place-go