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Putin: 'Nyet' to U.S. request to turn over Snowden

By Matti Huuhtanen & Vladimir Isachenkov

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:13 p.m. HST, Jun 25, 2013

MOSCOW » Yes, he's at a Moscow airport, and no, you can't have him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the first official acknowledgment of the whereabouts of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Tuesday and promptly rejected U.S. pleas to turn him over.

Snowden, who is charged with violating American espionage laws, fled Hong Kong over the weekend, touching off a global guessing game over where he went and frustrating U.S. efforts to bring him to justice.

Putin said Snowden is in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport and has not passed through Russian immigration, meaning he technically is not in Russia and thus is free to travel wherever he wants.

After arriving Sunday on a flight from Hong Kong, Snowden registered for a Havana-bound flight Monday en route to Venezuela and then possible asylum in Ecuador, but he didn't board the plane.

Speculation has been rife that Russian security services have been talking to Snowden and might want to keep him in Russia for a more thorough debriefing, but Putin denied that.

"Our special services never worked with Mr. Snowden and aren't working with him today," Putin said at a news conference during a visit to Finland.

Because Moscow has no extradition agreement with Washington, it cannot meet the U.S. request, he said.

"Mr. Snowden is a free man, and the sooner he chooses his final destination the better it is for us and for him," Putin said. "I hope it will not affect the businesslike character of our relations with the U.S. and I hope that our partners will understand that."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the U.S. wants Russia to show respect for the rule of law and comply with common practices when it comes to fugitives from justice.

Putin's staunch refusal to consider deportation shows his readiness to further challenge Washington at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are already strained over Syria and other issues, including a Russian ban on adoptions by Americans.

"Just showing America that we don't care about our relations, we are down to basically a Cold War pattern: The enemy of your government is our friend," said Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

"The Russian administration has not come that far, but we don't know what it's up to," she said.

Despite Putin's denial, security experts believe Russia's special services wouldn't miss the chance to question a man who is believed to hold reams of classified U.S. documents and could shed light on how the U.S. intelligence agencies collect information.

Igor Korotchenko, director of the Center for Global Arms Trade and editor of National Defense Magazine, said Snowden would be of particular interest because little is known about digital espionage.

"The security services would be happy to enter into contact with Mr. Snowden," Korotchenko said.

Russia also has relished using Snowden's revelations to turn the tables on the U.S. over its criticism of Russia's rights record.

Putin compared Snowden to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, saying that both men were labeled criminals but consider themselves rights activists and champions of freedom of information.

"Ask yourself a question: Should people like that be extradited so that they put them in prison?" he said. "In any case, I would prefer not to deal with such issues. It's like shearing a piglet: a lot of squealing and little wool."

In an apparent reference to claims that Russia could have played a role in Snowden's exit from Hong Kong, Putin said his arrival in Moscow was a "complete surprise" and dismissed such accusations as "ravings and sheer nonsense."

"He doesn't need a visa or any other documents, and as a transit passenger he has the right to buy a ticket and fly wherever he wants," Putin said.

Snowden, 30, is a former CIA employee who later was hired as a contractor for the NSA. In that job, he gained access to documents that he gave to newspapers the Guardian and The Washington Post to expose what he contends are privacy violations by an authoritarian government.

Snowden also told the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong that "the NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cellphone companies to steal all of your SMS data." He is believed to have more than 200 additional sensitive documents in laptops he is carrying.

Russian news media had reported that Snowden remained in a transit zone at the airport, which is separate from regular departure areas. He has not been seen by any of the journalists who have been roaming Sheremetyevo in search of him, furthering speculation that he had been secreted away.

The Interfax news agency, citing an unidentified airport official, said Snowden could be staying in a room in the transit zone normally reserved for flight crews and other personnel.

Legally, an arriving air passenger only crosses the border after clearing Russian immigration checks.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the U.S. push to turn over Snowden, but he wouldn't specify his whereabouts, saying only that he hadn't crossed the Russian border.

Kerry called for "calm and reasonableness."

"We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is a fugitive from justice," Kerry said at a news conference in Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. has revoked Snowden's passport.

A representative of WikiLeaks has been traveling with Snowden, and the secret-spilling organization is believed to be assisting him in arranging asylum. Assange, the group's founder, said Monday that Snowden was only passing through Russia and had applied for asylum in Ecuador, Iceland and possibly other countries.

A high-ranking Ecuadorean official told The Associated Press that Russia and Ecuador were discussing where Snowden could go, saying the process could take days. He also said Ecuador's ambassador to Moscow had not seen or spoken to Snowden. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The Kremlin has previously said Russia would be ready to consider Snowden's request for asylum.

Some observers said Snowden's revelations have provided the Kremlin with propaganda arguments to counter the U.S. criticism of Russia's crackdown on opposition and civil activists under Putin.

"They would use Snowden to demonstrate that the U.S. government doesn't sympathize with the ideals of freedom of information, conceals key information from the public and stands ready to open criminal proceedings against those who oppose it," Konstantin Remchukov, the editor of independent daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta, said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Putin has accused the U.S. State Department of instigating protests in Moscow against his re-election for a third term in March and has taken an anti-American posture that plays well with his core support base of industrial workers and state employees.


Huuhtanen reported from Naantali, Finland. Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Moscow and Michael Weissenstein and Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador, contributed to this story.

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sayer wrote:
The U.S. is making itself look weak the way they are going about this. Not good.
on June 25,2013 | 05:14AM
RichardCory wrote:
The U.S. isn't making itself look weak by what it is doing. The U.S. has already proved itself to be weak by what it has done.
on June 25,2013 | 05:57AM
allie wrote:
Truth is Bush weakened America with two losing wars and terrible internal economic policies. Get used to it: The era of Post WWII USA dominance is over. USA was NOT dominant for most of its history. Our Post-WWII dominance was based on our economic dominance primarily as well as our huge military and nuclear buildup. It was relatively brief and that time is over.
on June 25,2013 | 07:57AM
serious wrote:
Get off it. Obama is in his second term. The way I see it if Putin doesn't shut up---Obama will load up AF One and go fund raising in Chicago, then Hollywood. Then greet the Miami Heat at the WH. And not give Putin a Heat T-shirt---that will show him who's boss!!!
on June 25,2013 | 08:07AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Yeah, but Putin has something Obama doesn't have ...a Super Bowl ring. "Heat T-shirt"? Big deal.
on June 25,2013 | 08:28AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Which Putin stole.
on June 25,2013 | 08:40AM
hanalei395 wrote:
No kidding? ("Explaining" obvious sarcasm = no sense of humor).
on June 25,2013 | 09:03AM
false wrote:
You all shouldn't be minimizing the global war on terror. After all the intrusive surveillance the authorities have saved 17.5 Billion peoples lives this year alone.
on June 25,2013 | 11:43AM
pcman wrote:
IRT allie on Bush. Actually, we were winning the wars when Obama took over in 2009. After declaring victory in both wars, President Obama is the one who gave away the democratic gains of the two wars. I agree that our leadership and dominance in the world is over and it happened in the last four years. President Obama's plan to reduce our nuclear power by 33% will make us less dominant. Not only that, but it will cause other countries to want and get their own nuclear weapons because they can no longer depend on America's nuclear umbrella over the free world. We will be behind the nuclear power of Russia and China and no longer leading. We have also lost our economic dominance in the world over the last four years while trying to become something other than a capitalist power by wasting $6 Trillion on useless non-economically productive programs and paybacks to political supporters of Obama..
on June 25,2013 | 09:11AM
turbolink wrote:
If only the media would explain it as well and honestly as you have! Today's developments regarding Snowden and Russia clearly illustrate the lack of respect and a good measure of contempt for the current US administration.
on June 25,2013 | 09:31AM
OldDiver wrote:
We were winning the two wars?
on June 25,2013 | 10:51AM
Manoa2 wrote:
The US has lost the moral high ground they keep preaching about as well as any leverage on this hacking issue. US is always complaining all high and mighty about Russian and Chinese hackers, all the while, the US is the world's biggest hacker getting into everything in China, Russia, and the rest of world and Snowden has the goods to prove this and show how it was done. There is no way the international community after Snowden has told them they are being slapped in the face and hacked by the US. They would rather Snowden get his information out through Wikileaks so the USA is at a big disadvantage. Wouldn't you do that?
on June 25,2013 | 08:39AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Oh well, at least the world respects us for our courageous work on peace in the Middle East.
on June 25,2013 | 08:57AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
That's why I said don't believe Russia about the Boston bombing suspect! They would do anything to humiliate America. Really, do you know their main exports are criminals.
on June 25,2013 | 08:40AM
pcman wrote:
Over the past four years Pres Obama has effectively took American leadership of the world down to the level of third world countries. He apologized for American dominance, bullying and power and successfully reduced the role of American influence. Now we lead from behind. Not my words, President Obama's. Now instead of demanding world support of American needs, we end up with no friends in the world. If we look like a cry baby and sound like a cry baby, we are a cry baby. Thanks a lot for leading from behind.
on June 25,2013 | 08:53AM
kennysmith wrote:
he turned away from the people of the us people how about you.
on June 25,2013 | 10:49AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Not good. But the world is having a ball.
on June 25,2013 | 06:40AM
frontman wrote:
Thank you Mr. Putin.................. put obama and his team of liars on alert that the world will know the truth
on June 25,2013 | 07:28AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
The communist calling republicans now taking sides with Putin? Wow, a bunch of nuts.
on June 25,2013 | 08:37AM
kennysmith wrote:
you got this 100% right on the mark. thank you.
on June 25,2013 | 10:50AM
frontman wrote:
Did Obama's crew kill Michael Hastings????????????????????
on June 25,2013 | 08:21AM
lynnh wrote:
Obama is the one who is making us look weak. If I were Putin, after the arrogant, self-centered rant Obama put towards him at the recent conference, I would tell him to go to h e l l as well.
on June 25,2013 | 10:39AM
kennysmith wrote:
you are being track as well to?, what are you going to do now???.
on June 25,2013 | 10:48AM
palani wrote:
But...but...but didn't Obama "reset" our relations with Russia, ending generations of acrimony and distrust? Seriously, if a top secret intelligence analyst from China or Russia defected to the U.S., would we extradite him?
on June 25,2013 | 05:26AM
Manoa2 wrote:
Of course not-- we would not only detain him, but he might end up in guantanamo getting the Zero Dark 30 treatment. Or we might grant him asylum in exchange for the information he would give us about the Russians. In fact, according to Wikileaks which is now aiding Snowden, the US has had this happen, but we have kept it quiet and no one knows about it because of organizations like the NSA keep it secret from everyone.
on June 25,2013 | 08:55AM
kennysmith wrote:
who are you going to vote for in office now?
on June 25,2013 | 10:51AM
palani wrote:
Lavrov claimed that the Russian government found out about Snowden's flight from Hong Kong only from news reports.

Gee, I guess Obama is not the only one who gets the news about his own administration's scandals from the media.

on June 25,2013 | 05:30AM
cojef wrote:
A tit for tat, that's all. They view this incident as comical and are enjoying it to the utmost. While, our Government is scurring around trying to mend the holes in a leaky bucket spilling its guts out. Snowden really is a hero/scoundrel,/traitor and not getting paid except, maybe financial aid from wiki-leaks.
on June 25,2013 | 07:22AM
kukui_nut wrote:
Seems a Super Power is Super Powerless.
on June 25,2013 | 06:14AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
But when we have all of this information, how do we allow the cheap Chinese low level spying sluts exist on our campuses? Or are they double agents? And so we let them keep doing their double spying and wrecking of things in Hawaii?
on June 25,2013 | 06:16AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Yes, 2d2, these Chinese spying sluts are polluting our fine American men. Lol.
on June 25,2013 | 08:51AM
Manoa2 wrote:
Have you not been following this whole thing? The NSA is spying on any foreign student spies monitoring their internet usage, email, and cellphone calls. Let them stay and we get information until the next guy willing to spill these secrets. Maybe wiki-leaks is right-- end all secrets and "privacy" put everything on the internet since anyone can get anything on the internest anyway.
on June 25,2013 | 08:58AM
pcman wrote:
IRT 2disgusted2 on Chinese intelligence. The low level sluts are gaining more than what Snowden has revealed. The "sluts" are human intelligence (HUMINT) collectors who concentrate on collecting information on plans and intentions of our strategic plans and military operations. The Chinese let Snowden leave HK, China because the information he has, which is no longer classified, was basically tactical in nature. That is, to stop terrorism. However, before the metadata can be exploited some other form of intelligence would have to kick it off. Examples are, tipoffs from other intelligence means, leaks, defectors, governments and interrogations, all of which are also HUMINT.
on June 25,2013 | 09:32AM
Maili2 wrote:
Kind of embarrassing - not a good idea to back-handedly accuse Russia of anything! They don't take to it kindly.
on June 25,2013 | 06:23AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
If they don't shape up we'll draw a red line in the sand. If they cross that, we'll draw another. Meanwhile, there's still plenty of golf and that 4 nation, $100 million trip to Africa with the family.
on June 25,2013 | 08:59AM
honokai wrote:
This guy knows enough not to trust Russia. He still has some cards in his hand. Wikileaks is a distraction. He needs the protection of a foreign agency at this point. One that is our friend but that doesn't tell us everything.
on June 25,2013 | 06:52AM
allie wrote:
whaT IS outrageous is the subcontractor Booz Hamilton Allen. Why on earth did they give this high school drop out top secret clearance? Makes no sense.
on June 25,2013 | 07:58AM
all_fed_up wrote:
For once I agree with you
on June 25,2013 | 08:07AM
Manoa2 wrote:
For all we know, this guy is a double agent for the US planting false information overseas. Maybe we detected some Chinese or Russian Hacks and we needed to divert their attention to the "information" that Snowden has. So we quietly let him slip away-- Oops, we let him go to Hong Kong, oops, we let him go to Russia. Heh heh.
on June 25,2013 | 09:01AM
turbolink wrote:
You don't understand the process. Booz Allen didn't give him anything but a job after the Government granted a TS clearance, based on the prescribed background investigation adjudicated by the Government. Are you one of those folks who think you can buy a security clearance?
on June 25,2013 | 09:35AM
pcman wrote:
IRT allie on contractors. All contractors do it for money. If the US government has specific needs which are not available in the government, contractors will bid for the opportunity to provide the needs. To be able to pay Snowden $122,000, BAH had to bid at least $300,000 to satisfy the need. Security clearances like Snowden had in the military, CIA and NSA was a big help because it could have saved BAH up to $100,000 to process the clearance. Previous or currently inactive clearances can allow interim clearances and immediately starting work.
on June 25,2013 | 09:59AM
turbolink wrote:
And before you get carried away with profiteering allie, understand that most of the other $178K goes into taxes, benefits, and administrative costs mandated by public law. You would be shocked at what the actual profit margin is...or more correctly...is not.
on June 25,2013 | 10:11AM
Bdpapa wrote:
If doing it the diplomatic way don't work, use other means.
on June 25,2013 | 06:54AM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on June 25,2013 | 07:20AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Good info, they just need a little massaging.
on June 25,2013 | 08:50AM
Ratrase wrote:
Snowden was leaking info because he was opposed to authoritarian government policies here. Why then would he want to attain asylum in an even more authoritarian country like Russia? Look what happened to Pussy Riot. Or is it any port in a storm?
on June 25,2013 | 07:21AM
frontman wrote:
Thank you Mr. Putin.................. put obama and his team of liars on alert that the world will know the truth
on June 25,2013 | 07:28AM
allie wrote:
huh? The entire world spies hon.
on June 25,2013 | 07:59AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Even at Zippys. Spies? I mean pies!
on June 25,2013 | 08:54AM
all_fed_up wrote:
HIs 15 minutes of fame is up. Just whack um already.
on June 25,2013 | 08:13AM
saveparadise wrote:
I agree with all fed up. No muss no fuss, just send a 007 type over there and take the traitor out instead of trading insults with governments that are using this oppurtunity to show defiance in harboring him. He has compromised every law abiding American citizen and is a coward for running to rogue countries. He is literally looking back at us and sticking his tongue out.
on June 25,2013 | 08:46AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I wonder if Snowden knows how to drink Stoli and speak Russian?
on June 25,2013 | 11:12AM
Ewasohappy wrote:
"The day I'm inaugurated, America will look at itself differently, and the world will look at America differently," Obama has said. True, too true.
on June 25,2013 | 08:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Yeah, well that didn't work out so well but at least Twinkies are available again so America is still #1.
on June 25,2013 | 08:53AM
ceria wrote:
He had a lot of help from the people across the aisle! I wish everybody would quit this BS.....let's DISCUSS JOBS! Everybody spies on everybody else......let's not be naïve! And some classified stuff should not be shared for the sake of security of our country. What a shame......a 29 yr old HS dropout duped America......ho da shame!
on June 25,2013 | 09:00AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Thank You Russia for taking this Republican voting traitor. There is a long line of similar traitors wanting to leave America. They are constantly against the USA President, that was elected by ,We the People. I'm sure these communistic belzoos would be proud to serve under a nordicklike image.
on June 25,2013 | 08:47AM
aomohoa wrote:
Soon you'll be calling all republicans traitors. LOL Our government is out of control. Black budget out of control . Big bureaucracy out of control.
on June 25,2013 | 10:19AM
venacular50 wrote:
There is much talk of weakness. Whenever we try to strong arm a country, we gets thousands of sons/daughters killed and the costs so many complain about remain. Since World War II and the Korean War, has there be a valid reason to fight a war? And since the end of World War II, we have had these types of relations with Russia (USSR). I never expected nor expect Russia or any adversary to turn over a "canary run wild." If the roles were reversed, the US would do the same. The canary will find out, he went to the "cat house" because once he is no longer of use, he'll be some place, he wish did not exist.
on June 25,2013 | 08:59AM
Ewaduffer wrote:
It's a lucky break that Snowden is not "technically" in Russia. Putin can not possibly object to CIA entering that area and extracting him then.
on June 25,2013 | 10:02AM
kennysmith wrote:
i think you all there need to rethink of who and how you are going to vote for next time around in 2015? or 2016?.
on June 25,2013 | 10:53AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Been thinking about it for a while.
on June 25,2013 | 11:08AM
808ikea wrote:
Well of course Putin says no. He has to. Russia doesn't want to appear like a US lap dog. .
on June 25,2013 | 10:56AM
loquaciousone wrote:
"I AM NOT A CROOK!" Putin was heard shouting, "HE THE RING TO ME!""
on June 25,2013 | 11:10AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Update: "I AM NYET A CROOK", shouted Putin "HE GAVE ME THE RING!'
on June 25,2013 | 12:46PM
WKAMA wrote:
Don't believe anything WikiLeaks or Julian Assange it's founder says. Pity any country that takes Snowden in. He can't be trusted and is totally irresponsible.
on June 25,2013 | 11:24AM
DAGR81 wrote:
are you talking about Obama?
on June 25,2013 | 01:11PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Well Ecuador was planning to until they found out that over forty percent of their exports depend on not making the US of A mad.
on June 25,2013 | 01:50PM
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