Obama says shouldn't have to talk to Xi, Putin about Snowden

DAKAR Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:50am EDT

People wait before boarding an Aeroflot Airbus A330 plane heading to the Cuban capital Havana at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

People wait before boarding an Aeroflot Airbus A330 plane heading to the Cuban capital Havana at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

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DAKAR (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he had not yet spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin about the U.S. request to extradite former American spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Speaking at a news conference in Senegal at the start of an African tour, Obama said normal legal channels should be sufficient to handle Washington's request that Snowden, who left Hong Kong for Russia, be returned.

"I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally and the reason is...number one, I shouldn't have to," Obama said.

"Number two, we've got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia, and I'm not going to have one case of a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues," Obama said.

Snowden has become an embarrassment for the Obama administration after he leaked details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs.

His fate is now the focus of an international wrangle pitting the United States against its frequent opponents in the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia.

Snowden himself remains in limbo at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where he has been waiting in the transit area since his arrival on Sunday. He had been expected to fly to Havana on Monday en route to Ecuador, where he has asked for asylum.

In the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, the government said it had not processed Snowden's asylum request because he had not reached any of its diplomatic premises.

Bristling at suggestions Quito was weighing the pros and cons of Snowden's case in terms of its own interests, officials also said Ecuador would waive its preferential trade rights under a soon-to-expire treaty with the United States.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Mark Felsenthal; writing by Mike Collett-White)

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Comments (32)
AZreb wrote:
In other words, the status of the US with China and Russia is not good enough to make them submit to threats and our bargaining chips mean nothing. We are one of, if not the biggest, debtors to China so we have little to no bargaining power. Russia is using its strength as a sovereign nation, as is seen with its supporting and arming the Syrian government forces.

Jun 27, 2013 8:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
sylvan wrote:
Smart move by our president to put this in perspective. The damage to intelligence gathering is complete and irreversible; Fast Eddie is seemingly stuck in Moscow. If they keep him, justice has been served. Massive attention was all he or Glenn Greenwald ever wanted. In fact Glenn has now determined that his personal life should not be examined even though he distributed porn and is in a long-standing tax dispute with the US government. Snowden has posted on multiple sites many times that leakers should be shot in the gonads, which was his response to the NYT exposing warrantless surveillance in 2005. The rest of this is just trying to steal 15 minutes of fame from the Kardashians.

Jun 27, 2013 8:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Freedomfor wrote:
It works well to play the attention to Snowden instead to the crime done to the public. Lets catch the spy instead!

Jun 27, 2013 9:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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