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Putin says no to U.S. request to extradite Snowden

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.

MGN Online

NAANTALI, Finland (AP) - 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.

He 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.

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.

"I would simply appeal for calm and reasonableness. We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is 'a fugitive' from justice,' " Kerry said at a news conference in Saudi Arabia. Lavrov claimed that the Russian government found out about Snowden's flight from Hong Kong only from news reports.

"We have no relation to Mr. Snowden, his relations with American justice or his travels around the world," Lavrov said. "He chooses his route himself, and we have learned about it from the media."

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.

A high-ranking Ecuadorean official told The Associated Press that Russia and Ecuador were discussing where Snowden could go, saying the process could take days. He also said Ecuador's ambassador to Moscow had not seen or spoken to Snowden. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, hailed Snowden on Monday as "a man attempting to bring light and transparency to facts that affect everyone's fundamental liberties."


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