01:29 GMT04 March 2021
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    According to Snowden's lawyer, the rumors of exchanging Edward Snowden for Russian businessman Viktor Bout are spread by Western intelligence agencies.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The rumored exchange of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden for Russian businessman Viktor Bout is spread by Western intelligence agencies, Snowden's lawyer said Monday.

    "These are all rumors spread by the representatives of the same Western special services," Anatoly Kucherena told reporters. "There are no grounds for Moscow to negotiate with anyone… This is simply unacceptable."

    Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a joint operation between Thai and US authorities, who accused him of conspiring to kill US citizens by allegedly agreeing to supply Colombian militants with weapons. Moscow has said that the case has been politicized and has repeatedly called on Washington to release the Russian citizen, who is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.

    In 2013, Snowden leaked classified documents pertaining to mass surveillance practices carried out by US authorities around the globe. The same year, Russia granted the whistleblower temporary asylum for one year. In 2014, Snowden received a three-year residence permit to live in Russia, which was later extended until 2020.

    Last week, media reported that Snowden could be extradited to the United States as part of a swap deal for Bout. That was not the first report about possible Snowden’s extradition — on February 11, the NBC broadcaster reported that the US intelligence had obtained information that Russia was allegedly considering "turning over Edward Snowden as a gift" to new US President Donald Trump.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the BBC in late January that such a decision could be made only by migration bodies or Russian President Vladimir Putin, and pointed out that Snowden was not a "toy" that could be "gifted."


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