Putin offers asylum to former FBI director Comey
"We do not consider America our enemy," the Russian leader said during an annual televised show, "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin," during which he answers questions from the general public.
"We know that we have many friends in America," Putin said in response to a question from an American man. He dismissed recent problems between the US and Russia as a result of in-fighting among the US leadership.
The man had asked Putin via videolink how to deal with Russophobia among his compatriots. Putin said he had no particular advice to offer on that matter, but said he was sure that bilateral relations could strengthen on a basis of mutual respect.
Later on in the programme, Putin offered asylum to the former director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, who had been investigating alleged Russian interference in the US presidential elections in 2016.
Putin said that Comey's release of records of his conversations with President Donald Trump equated to being an activist, like former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who lives in Russia under asylum.
If Comey, who was fired by Trump, continues to be persecuted, "we will be ready to provide him political asylum," Putin said. ■