Edward Snowden’s whereabouts have been verified by Russian president Vladimir Putin who also announced that his country is not going to turn Snowden over to U.S. authorities, reported The Guardian. President Putin confirmed that Snowden was at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.
Amid U.S. accusations that Russia is somehow aiding Snowden, Putin proclaimed that Snowden came to Russia of his own accord and was a mere “transit passenger.” He also clarified that Russia was unaware of Snowden’s travels plans. “Mr. Snowden really did fly into Moscow. For us it was completely unexpected,” said Putin. However, that didn’t stop U.S. officials from blaming the Russians.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” approach saying that “We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is a fugitive from justice.” Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov staunchly and vehemently rejected any notion that Russia is involved and providing Snowden with travel accommodations.
Putin reduced such accusations as “nonsense and rubbish” and Lavrov asserted that “We [Russia] consider the attempts we are now seeing to blame the Russian side for breaking U.S. laws and being almost in on the plot totally baseless and unacceptable, and even an attempt to threaten us.”
Putin backhandedly offered Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a bit of moral support, noting that they “consider themselves human rights activists. . . Ask yourself this: should you hand these people over so they will be put in prison?”
Russia seems to be in neutral diplomatic-positioning, considering its apparent lack of extreme polarity on the issue, which will surely work to Snowden’s advantage especially while awaiting the response from Ecuador concerning his asylum request.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.