Putin rules out handing Snowden over to United States

MOSCOW Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:10am EDT

1 of 13. An exterior view of the Capsule Hotel 'Air Express' is seen at the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former U.S. spy agency contractor sought by Washington on espionage charges appeared on Wednesday to be still in hiding at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and the national airline said he was not booked on any of its flights over the next three days.

Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong after leaking details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs, then flew on to Moscow on Sunday, evading a U.S. extradition request. President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he was in the transit area of the airport and he had no intention of handing him to Washington.

"They are not flying today and not over the next three days," an Aeroflot representative at the transfer desk at Sheremetyevo said when asked whether Snowden and his legal adviser, Sarah Harrison, were due to fly out on Wednesday.

"They are not in the system."

Snowden has not been seen in public but Russian officials say he is at the airport, awaiting a response to an appeal for asylum in Ecuador. The logical route to be taken - and one for which he at one point had a reservation - would be an Aeroflot flight via Havana.

The choice of alternative flights, while the United States presses other countries not to take him in or to arrest him on arrival, would be limited.

Putin denied Snowden was being interviewed by Russian intelligence and said any U.S. accusations that Moscow was aiding him as "ravings and rubbish".

That prompted a new extradition demand by Washington, which said there was a "clear legal basis" to do so.

The row threatens to further fray ties between the United States and Russia, which have argued over human rights and Putin's treatment of opponents in a year-old third term and have squared off over Syria conflict in the U.N. Security Council.

(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Writing by Steve Gutterman)

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Comments (60)
dwightneller wrote:
I hope Snowden is chilling on a beach with his honey in the end of this chase. The US should let him be. Obama should cut his losses now. Nobody has any respect for him anymore. Not even ex-KGB.

Jun 25, 2013 9:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
3Hawks wrote:
Good for Putin…he is giving our government a taste of their own ways. How many Russians have sought safety here and America refused to turn them over. Let Obama whine and cry…he and Holder can share Kleenix boxes while the pres. takes a world flight on Air Force One to ease his pain.

Jun 25, 2013 10:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
stevepounds wrote:
Retreat to a safe distance. Give the sane ones time to get out. Nuke Um!

Jun 25, 2013 10:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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