Russia is ready to grant asylum to former FBI Director James Comey if he is persecuted in the United States, President Vladimir Putin said.

“He said he had recorded his conversation with President [Donald Trump] and handed over this recording to mass media with the help of a friend. This sounds strange. When a special service head records a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then gives it to the media through his friend. What is then the difference between the FBI director and [Edward] Snowden? Then he is not the head of a special service, he is a human rights activist defending a certain stance. If he [Comey] is persecuted, we are ready to grant him political asylum in Russia, he should know about it,” Putin said.

On June 8, Comey appeared for testimony on the Trump-Russia probe at the US Senate Intelligence Committee. He explained why he recorded his private talks with the US president, saying that he was afraid Trump might “lie” about them. However, he said that Trump did not directly order him stop investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Following the revelation, Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz called for finding out whether by leaking sensitive information the ex-FBI head violated the law.

In May, Trump fired Comey over what he believed was poor handling of the investigation into the Hillary Clinton private server and email scandal. However, many believe that the decision is connected with the probe into alleged ties of Trump’s campaign team to Russia, as Comey reportedly was seeking funding to extend the bureau’s inquiry.

Russia has repeatedly denied claims of meddling in the US political process, calling such allegations absurd. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had no official contacts with Trump’s team during the presidential campaign.

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