MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Tuesday that Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee wanted by the United States for leaking state secrets, is in Moscow.
Speaking at a press conference in Finland, Putin said that Snowden, whose whereabouts had been the subject of international speculation for the past two days, was in the transit area of a Moscow airport.
Commenting on Washington’s warning, issued a day earlier, that countries that had helped Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow would face consequences in bilateral relations, Putin said that Russia does not have a relevant extradition agreement with the United States and that any accusations leveled regarding Moscow's refusal to hand over Snowden were “nonsense.”
“I hope that this won’t affect … our relationship with the United States in any way,” the Russian president added.
Earlier Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had rejected US criticism of Moscow following reports that Snowden had flown to Russia en route to Ecuador, where he has requested asylum. Lavrov said Snowden “had not crossed the Russian border.”
Staying in the transit zone of an airport does not constitute crossing a country’s border. However, passengers arriving in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on the way to another country, as Snowden reportedly did, can only stay in the airport’s transit zone for 24 hours without obtaining a transit visa, which can be issued at the airport itself, according to Sheremetyevo’s website.