Russia would consider granting asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
Snowden fled the United States after leaking information about the NSA's secret surveillance of phone records and information collected by Internet providers. After revealing his identity to the public, he said that he had sought refuge in Hong Kong, and was hoping "to seek asylum in a country with shared values."
Snowden has not made any requests for asylum yet, but Peskov told Russian newspaper Kommersant, "If such an appeal is given, it will be considered."
"We'll act according to facts," he said. The Guardian reported Tuesday that the statement prompted other Russian officials to declare their support for Snowden. As the newspaper noted, the country has a poor record for human rights and free speech, but has been known to support critics of the United States.
The revelation that Snowden fled to Hong Kong has ignited debate about whether it was a wise choice. Some experts argue that Hong Kong's government will likely hand him over to the United States, citing the treaty that guarantees extradition with the exception of outstanding circumstances. Snowden is believed to have checked out of the hotel where he was staying on Monday, and his current whereabouts are unknown.