WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to heed the Obama administration’s request to extradite NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Business Week reports that Putin and Russian officials say they have legal basis to keep Snowden within their borders and a right to refuse to extradite him to the U.S.
Russia apparently was “completely surprised” when Snowden arrived in Moscow when he took a plane from Hong Kong on June 23rd. They said this even when Putin said he would consider giving Snowden political asylum.
The Americans and Russians do not have an extradition treaty and therefore Putin and Russian authorities do not have to return Snowden. The Snowden controversy is hurting the Obama administration, who already have to deal with the IRS scandal, DOJ spying on reporters and Benghazi.
Russia was “completely surprised” by the arrival of Snowden, who remained in a Moscow airport transit zone after traveling from Hong Kong on June 23, Putin told reporters in Finland yesterday. Snowden, who faces U.S. espionage charges, can’t be handed over because the two nations don’t have an extradition treaty, Putin said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry could only say, “we’re not looking for a confrontation.” And, Obama national security council spokesman Caitlin Hayden said that “we agree with President Putin that we do not want this issue to negatively impact our bilateral relations.”