Russia refuses US request to extradite Edward Snowden
Tue, 25 Jun 2013 17:43:13 GMT —
Russian President Vladimir Putin says that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and will not be extradited to the United States.
Putin said that Snowden hasn't crossed the Russian border and is free to go anywhere.
Speaking on a visit to Finland Tuesday, he added that Russian security agencies "didn't work and aren't working" with Snowden. He gave no more details.
Commenting on a U.S. request to extradite him, Putin said that Russia doesn't have an extradition agreement with the U.S. and thus wouldn't meet the U.S. request.
He voiced hope that Snowden will depart as quickly as possible and that his stopover at Moscow's airport wouldn't affect bilateral ties.
Earlier in the day, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, insisted that Russia has nothing to do with Snowden or his travel plans. Lavrov wouldn't say where Snowden is, but he lashed out angrily at Washington for demanding his extradition and warning of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply.
The defiant tone underlined the Kremlin's readiness to challenge Washington at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are strained over Syria and a Russian ban on adoptions by Americans.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Moscow to "do the right thing" and turn over Snowden. Kerry said Tuesday that although the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, he called on Moscow to comply with common law practices between countries where fugitives are concerned.
Snowden is believed to have fled there Sunday from Hong Kong, where he had been hiding out since his disclosure of the broad scope of two highly classified U.S. counterterror surveillance programs. The programs collect vast amounts of Americans' phone records and worldwide online data in the name of national security.
Snowden booked a seat on a Havana-bound flight from Moscow on Monday en route to Venezuela and then possible asylum in Ecuador, but he didn't board the plane. Russian news media have reported that he has remained in a transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, but journalists there haven't seen him.
A representative of WikiLeaks has been traveling with Snowden, and the organization is believed to be assisting him in arranging asylum. The organization's founder, Julian Assange, said Monday that Snowden was only passing through Russia and had applied for asylum in Ecuador, Iceland and possibly other countries.