June 25, 2013
Russia’s President says former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is still in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Vladimir Putin says that any accusations of Russia related to Snowden are “nonsense and rubbish.”
“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,” Putin said as he spoke to journalists in Finland.
Snowden “has not crossed” the Russian border, Putin stressed, saying that any accusations against Russia are “nonsense and rubbish.”
The President said that there is no extradition treaty between Russia and the US, which makes it impossible to extradite people like Snowden.
“We can only extradite any foreign citizens to such countries with which we have signed the appropriate international agreements on criminal extradition,” he explained.
Snowden “has not committed any crime” on Russian soil, Putin added. Russian security agencies “have never worked with and are not working with” the former NSA contractor, he also stressed.
“Snowden is a free person. The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it is for him and Russia,”Putin said.
He also expressed hope that the Snowden saga would not have any negative impact on Russian-American relations.
“I hope this won’t affect the cordial nature of our relations with the US. I hope our partners will understand this,” Putin said.
Putin also commented on the situation with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing that he would then be extradited to the US.
“Just like Snowden, he considers himself a rights advocate and fights for sharing information. Ask yourself: should or should not people like these be extradited to be later put to jail?” the President asked.
“In any case, I would like not to deal with such issues because it is like shearing a pig: there’s lots of squealing and little fleece,” he said.