Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Tuesday NSA leaker Edward Snowden is still in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, but that Russia will not extradite him back to the U.S.
Saying he hopes his decision doesn’t “have any negative impact on Russian-American relations,” Putin said since Russia has no extradition treaty with the U.S., Snowden is free to go where he likes.
Russia Today reported Putin spoke to journalists in Finland Tuesday about the situation:
It is true that Snowden has arrived to Moscow, and it really came as a surprise for us. He arrived as a transit passenger, and didn’t need a [Russian] visa, or any other documents. As a transit passenger he is entitled to buy a ticket and fly to wherever he wants.
We can only extradite any foreign citizens to such countries with which we have signed the appropriate international agreements on criminal extradition.
Snowden is a free person. The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it is for him and Russia.
According to the Russian news agency, Putin justified his decision not to return Snowden because he hadn’t committed a crime in Russia. “Russian security agencies ‘have never worked with and are not working with’ the former NSA contractor,” Putin added, according to RT.
“I hope this won’t affect the cordial nature of our relations with the US. I hope our partners will understand this,” Putin said.
Doubtful, but time will tell.
In the meantime, Snowden, the real-life gingerbread man, continues to run as fast as he can from espionage charges and the international community continues to stick it in America’s eye.