The mixed messages coming out of Russia surrounding Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who leaked sensitive information, have now been clarified. According to a RT news report, President Vladimir Putin told reporters today that Snowden remains at the Moscow airport -- and that he will not, despite U.S. demands, be extradited.
The president said that Snowden has committed no crimes in Russia and that he is free to move about the country at his own free will. As for the allegations that Russia has been assisting the leaker, Putin called any and all claims "nonsense and rubbish."
Photo Credit: AP
Putin also noted that there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia and that Snowden committed no crimes in his country, expressing hope that his decision won't impact business ties between the two nations.
"Snowden is a free person," he said, while making his comments to journalists in Finland. "The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it is for him and Russia."
This development comes after an earlier report today that Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite Snowden. At the time, though, Lavrov claimed that the U.S. resident hadn’t crossed the Russian border. And, like Putin, he insisted that Russia has nothing to do with Snowden or his travel plans.
FILE - In this June 21, 2013 file photo, a banner supporting Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, is displayed at Central, Hong Kong's business district. The Hong Kong government says Snowden wanted by the U.S. for revealing two highly classified surveillance programs has left for a "third country." The South China Morning Post reported Sunday, June 23, 2013 that Snowden was on a plane for Moscow, but that Russia was not his final destination. Snowden has talked of seeking asylum in Iceland. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
As TheBlaze previously reported, Lavrov wouldn’t say where the leaker was at the time of his commentary, but he lashed out angrily at Washington for demanding his extradition and warning of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday urged Moscow to “do the right thing” and turn over Snowden.
“We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy, which on top of all that are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable,” Lavrov said. “There are no legal grounds for such conduct of U.S. officials.”
The defiant tone underlined the Kremlin’s readiness to challenge Washington at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are strained over Syria and a Russian ban on adoptions by Americans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.
(H/T: Russia Today)