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July 1, 2013

Putin: Snowdon must stop leaking secrets to stay

MOSCOW —

Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden will have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wants to get asylum in Russia, something he says Snowden doesn't want to do.

Putin, speaking at a news conference Monday, insisted that Snowden isn't a Russian agent and that Russian security agencies haven't contacted him.

He says that Snowden considers himself a rights activist, a "new dissident" and compared him to Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov.

Snowden has been caught in legal limbo in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he arrived from Hong Kong. The U.S. has annulled his passport.

Putin wouldn't say if any of the leaders of gas exporting nations attending a summit in Moscow could offer Snowden shelter.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

French President Francois Hollande demanded on Monday that the United States immediately stop its alleged eavesdropping on European Union diplomats and suggested that the widening surveillance scandal could derail negotiations for a free-trade deal potentially worth billions.

The Obama administration is facing a breakdown in confidence from key allies over secret programs that reportedly installed covert listening devices in EU offices. Many European countries had so far been muted about revelations of the wide net cast by U.S. surveillance programs aimed at preventing terrorist attacks, but their reaction to the latest reports indicate Washington's allies are unlikely to let the matter drop without at least a strong show of outrage.

The White House wouldn't comment on the new reports, but officials said President Barack Obama has not spoken to his counterparts in Europe about the revelations since they were published Sunday in a German weekly.

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