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US presses its influence as Snowden requests asylum

MOSCOW — Edward Snowden has found supporters in Latin America, including three countries that have offered him asylum. But many obstacles stand in the way of the fugitive National Security Agency leaker from leaving a Russian airport — chief among them the power and influence of the United States.

Because Snowden’s US passport has been revoked, the logistics of him departing are complicated. During the past two days, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have offered him asylum, but the three countries have not indicated they would help Snowden by issuing a travel document, which he would need to leave Russia.

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The former NSA systems analyst, who is charged with violating US spy laws, is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s main international airport after arriving June 23 from Hong Kong.

Russia does not appear willing to help him leave the airport, with Kremlin spokesman Alexei Pavlov saying Saturday that the issue of Snowden’s travel documents is ‘‘not our business.’’ On Monday, President Vladimir Putin said Snowden would be offered asylum in Russia if he stopped leaking US secrets. Snowden then withdrew his Russian asylum request, a Russian official said.

While President Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, indicating last month that he would not be ‘‘scrambling jets’’ to capture him, other senior US officials have said that they want him back.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said China had ‘‘unquestionably’’ damaged its relationship with Washington for not returning Snowden from semiautonomous Hong Kong while he was still there.

‘‘The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,’’ he said. ‘‘We think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations. . . there is a problem.’’

Snowden has sought asylum in more than 20 nations. WikiLeaks, which has been helping Snowden, said he had submitted asylum applications to six new nations, which the secret-spilling website would not identify ‘‘due to attempted US interference.’’

The asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia came after leftist South American leaders gathered to denounce the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane over Europe amid reports that the fugitive American was aboard.

Spain says it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgment the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane’s diversion to Austria.

Saturday, Morales offered asylum to Snowden, but did not say whether Bolivia had received a request from him.

Snowden, who was not on an Interpol list of those with international arrest warrants on Saturday, had booked a seat on a Havana-bound flight June 24, but never made it.

Direct Havana flights, operated by Aeroflot from Moscow’s main airport five times a week, are the easiest option to reach Latin America from Moscow. But the Moscow-Havana’s travel path passes the US mainland, raising the chances of it being grounded.

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