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The US Will Not Barter for Snowden Obama

RIA Novosti

19:36 27/06/2013 MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama said Thursday that the United States would not engage in “wheeling and dealing” to win the extradition of former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who is reportedly hiding in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after arriving from Hong Kong earlier this week.

"I have not called [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] personally or [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin personally, and the reason is … number one, I shouldn't have to," Obama said at a press conference during a visit to Africa, according to The Associated Press news agency.

"[And] number two, we've got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia, and I'm not going to have one case of a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues.”

Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked, is wanted by the US for leaking state secrets and arrived in Sheremetyevo on an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong on Sunday. President Putin denied three days later that Snowden was collaborating with Russian intelligence agencies.

Obama told reporters that there had been “useful conversations” with Moscow about handing over Snowden – despite Putin's assertion that Russia will not give Snowden to the US because the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

Russian officials have, meanwhile, been criticizing the United States’ position.

“The US has always defended dissidents – in China, in Burma and across the world,” Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the International Affairs Committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Thursday. “Washington’s current position is damaging the image of the US.”

And Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Kremlin’s human rights council, told Russian TV channel Rossiya-24 that Snowden’s actions were a favor to humankind, and he should not extradited.

A series of senior US officials in Washington have called for Russia to ship Snowden back to the United States. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel broke his silence on the topic Wednesday, saying that Snowden was responsible for a "serious security breach" and that he hoped Russia would "do the right thing," NBC News reported.

Snowden’s final destination is unknown, but the former CIA technician and contractor for the National Security Agency has reportedly applied for asylum in Ecuador.

The South American country said Thursday that it was unilaterally renouncing its preferential trade status with the US, worth millions of dollars, because Washington was using the agreement as an “instrument of renewal,” the AP reported.

The head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, warned Ecuador on Wednesday that it could lose its preferential trade status if it gave refuge to Snowden.

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