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Snowden drops Russia asylum request, in transit area: Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has withdrawn a request for political asylum in Russia after President Vladimir Putin said he should stop "harming our American partners", the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed Snowden was still in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in on June 23 from Hong Kong, and said he had not crossed through passport control onto Russian territory.

Reiterating comments by Putin, Peskov said Russia would not send the American back to the United States to face espionage charges for leaking details of secret U.S. government intelligence programs. He also said Russian intelligence had never worked with Snowden.

"Snowden is in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport and has not crossed the Russian Federation's border (onto Russian soil)... Russia has never extradited anyone, is not extraditing anyone and will not extradite anyone," Peskov told reporters.

"Hypothetically Snowden could stay in the Russian Federation but on one condition - that he give up any intention to engage in any form of anti-American activities, activities that are harmful to the United States."

He said Snowden showed no sign of doing this and added: "After learning of Russian's position yesterday, voiced by President Putin ... he abandoned his intention (of staying) and his request to be able to stay in Russia."

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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