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Putin rejects US demand to extradite Snowden |
Source: Agencies | 2013-6-26 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin yesterday bluntly rejected US pleas to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Snowden is free to travel wherever he wants and insisting that Russian security agencies haven't contacted him.
Snowden is in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and has not passed through Russian immigration, Putin said.
In his first public comments on Snowden since he flew in on Sunday, Putin said the 30-year-old American was in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, was free to leave and should do so as soon as he could.
Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador but it has said that it is still considering the application.
The US is trying to persuade the governments of countries where he might head to hand him over.
"He has not crossed the state's border, and therefore does not need a visa. And any accusations against Russia (of aiding him) are ravings and rubbish," Putin told a news conference during a visit to Finland.
Making clear Moscow saw no gain in extraditing Snowden, he said: "It's like giving a baby pig a haircut: there's a lot of squealing, but there's little wool.
"We can hand over foreign citizens to countries with which we have an appropriate international agreement on the extradition of criminals. We don't have such an agreement with the United States. Thank God, Mr Snowden committed no crimes on the territory of the Russian Federation."
His words appeared a direct rebuff to US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking only hours earlier.
"It is accurate there is not an extradition treaty between Russia and the United states, but there are standards of behavior between sovereign nations," he said in Jeddah.
Snowden, charged with disclosing secret US surveillance programs, left Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday and the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group said he was headed for Ecuador.
Journalists camped out at the airport have not spotted him inside, or leaving, the transit area. He has not registered at a hotel in the transit zone, hotel sources say.
A receptionist at the Capsule Hotel Air Express, a complex of 47 basic rooms furnished predominantly with grey carpets and grey walls, said Snowden had turned up on Sunday, looked at the price list and then left.
Putin said Russian security agencies "never worked with ... Snowden and are not working with him today."
The Sheremetyevo airport transit area is Russian sovereign territory, but Russia says that in staying there Snowden has not formally entered the country.
"The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it would be for us and for himself," Putin said.
Snowden is travelling on a refugee document of passage provided by Ecuador, WikiLeaks said. The organization's founder, Julian Assange, said Snowden was only passing through Russia and had applied for asylum in Ecuador, Iceland and possibly other countries.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has hailed Snowden as "a man attempting to bring light and transparency to facts that affect everyone's fundamental liberties."