French interior minister opposes asylum for Snowden

PARIS (AFP) - French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Thursday that he was opposed to granting fugitive United States intelligence leaker Edward Snowden asylum.

Mr Valls told BMFTV that France had not received a request for asylum from Mr Snowden. He said such a request would be studied but that he personally opposed it - the first time a French government official has explicitly rejected the idea of granting Mr Snowden asylum.

"This request, if it is made, poses a number of legal problems. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not in favour," Mr Valls said, noting: "The United States is a democratic country, with an independent judicial system."

Mr Snowden has been holed up in a Moscow airport transit area since June 23, seeking to avoid US espionage charges for revealing a vast surveillance programme to collect phone and Internet data. He has requested asylum in 21 countries.