Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to have it both ways. He says he will not turn Snowden over the United States, but Snowden can only stay if the leaks stop. According to the Russian Press service RT Media Putin told a news conference:
“There is one condition if he wants to remain here: he must
stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as
it may sound from me,” Putin told a media conference in
In Putin’s opinion, Snowden considers himself “a fighter for
human rights” and it seems unlikely that he is going to stop
leaking American secret data.
However, Russia is not going to extradite Snowden, the president
“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so.
Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia,” Putin
“At best,” he noted, Russia exchanged its foreign
intelligence employees detained abroad for “those who were
detained, arrested and sentenced by a court in the Russian
Snowden “is not a Russian agent”, the president said, repeating
that Russian intelligence services were not working with the
He said Snowden should choose his final destination and go there.
Putin added that he has no idea when that is going to happen.
“If I knew, I would tell you now,” he told the media
conference after the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries.
There is no information whether Putin’s statement is related to the earlier news that Snowden met this morning with Russian diplomatic officials
and handed them an appeal to 15 countries (including Russia) for political asylum.
“It was a desperate measure on his part after Ecuador
disavowed his political protection credentials,” said the official,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
Putin is trying to avoid the US pressure by showing he is trying to stop the leaks and at the same time continue tweaking Obama. The truth is at this point Snowden cannot stop the leaks as he has turned over all his information to the Guardian (and probably Wikileaks). So Putin’s condition is all about putting on a nice public face to the US. He will never “enforce” his one condition, because the cat is already out of the bag.