Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information to the press, had flown into Moscow – and said that Russia would not be extraditing the whistleblower to the United States.
Washington has directed blame at Russia for allowing Snowden to fly into Moscow from Hong Kong.
Speaking on a visit to Finland, President Vladimir Putin told reporters “Snowden indeed arrived in Moscow. It was a total surprise for us. He came in as a transit passenger. He doesn’t need a visa or other documents. As a transit passenger he has a right to buy a ticket and fly anywhere he wants.”
“Concerning his possible extradition, we can only extradite foreign citizens to those countries with which we have appropriate agreements,” Putin continued.
There is no extradition treaty between the US and Russia.
After strongly-worded statements from Washington earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged “calm and reasonableness”.
Speaking on a visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Kerry said: “It is accurate that there is no extradition treaty between Russia and the United States, but there are standards of behaviour between sovereign nations,” Kerry said.
It is believed that Snowden may still be in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport – and that Ecuador could be his next destination.
According to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, Snowden is travelling on a refugee document of passage provided by Ecuador.
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