MOSCOW (CBS/AP) -- President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been warned against taking any actions that would damage relations between Moscow and Washington.
Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia, three weeks after arriving at a Moscow airport from Hong Kong. The United States wants him sent home to face prosecution for espionage.
Granting Snowden asylum would add new tensions to U.S.-Russian relations already strained by criticism of Russia's pressure on opposition groups, Moscow's suspicion of U.S. missile-defense plans and Russia's resistance to sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On a visit to the Siberian city of Chita on Wednesday, Putin said "we have warned Mr. Snowden that any actions by him connected with harming Russian-American relations are unacceptable," according to Russian news agencies.
Putin said two weeks ago that if Snowden hoped to receive asylum in Russia, "he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips."
At that time, Putin said Snowden did not seem interested in halting his actions to spill U.S. intelligence secrets onto the pages of major newspapers.
"Because he feels that he is a human rights defender, rights activist, he doesn't seem to have an intention to stop such work," Putin said on July 1.
Snowden has since said himself -- to a gathering of human rights campaigners and lawyers at the Moscow airport where he's currently stuck in immigration law limbo, and in a letter to a former U.S. senator who has come out in support of the fugitive -- that he does not intend to turn over any secrets which he believes could harm the American people.
U.S. government officials, lawmakers and intelligence sources have said harm has already been done to U.S. intelligence gathering operations by the information Snowden has revealed, suggesting terror groups have changed their communications methods to try and avoid detection.
In a letter published by Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald on Tuesday, Snowden thanks former Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey for his message of support and insists he has, "not provided any information that would harm our people - agent or not - and I have no intention to do so."
"No intelligence service - not even our own - has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect," claims Snowden in the letter.
Russia's Migration Service confirmed Tuesday that it had received Snowden's official application for temporary refugee status.
CBS News' Svetlana Berdnikova reports that, according to legal analysts in Moscow, the Russian government will be able to issue Snowden with temporary documentation to allow him to move freely around Russia once the application is processed by the Migration Service.
It can take up to five days for that preliminary review of the application to be completed, but the high-profile Russian lawyer assisting him said Wednesday that Snowden could be issued with the certificate needed to move around inside Russia "soon," suggesting his exit from the airport could be imminent.
The full examination of his request for refugee status can take the Migration Service three months -- and that period can be doubled if the agency feels more time is necessary to weigh the merits of his request. If asylum is granted, it would permit Snowden to live and work in Russia for up to one year, and could then be renewed.