Russia will not extradite U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, a Kremlin spokesman said citing President Vladimir Putin.
“Russia has never extradited anyone and will not extradite anyone in the future,” said Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s press secretary.
Mr. Snowden, who filed for asylum in Russia last week, is currently waiting for clearance from Russian migration authorities to leave the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he has been stranded for more than a month with his U.S. passport revoked.
The Kremlin spokesman voiced confidence that Mr. Snowden would stop divulging secrets once he gets Russian asylum.
“The [Russian] head of state stated his firm intention not to let this happen. I have no doubts that it will be as he said under any circumstances,” Mr. Peskov told reporters on Friday.
Mr. Peskov said Mr. Putin was not handling the case of, nor was he involved in talks with U.S. President Barack Obama over his fate.
“Snowden has never been on Putin’s agenda,” Mr. Peskov said, adding that Russia’s Federal Security Agency, FSB, was in contact with the U.S. FBI over this issue.
Mr. Putin has strenuously denied any role in deciding whether to let Mr. Snowden stay in Russia, insisting it was the responsibility of the Russian Migration Service. However, Washington clearly holds the Russian leader personally responsible and has threatened to cancel U.S. President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Moscow in September if Mr Snowden is still there.
A former Russian migration official said Mr. Snowden may have to spend up to six months at Sheremetyevo Airport or at a temporary accommodation centre for immigrants.
“He is currently under guard in the transit zone for his own safety,” said Vladimir Volokh, former head of the immigration and asylum at the Federal Migration Service. “Even if he moves to the migration service’s temporary accommodation centre, his safety would be a major concern because his life is in jeopardy.”
The expert explained that the Russian migration authorities have three months to decide on Mr. Snowden’s asylum request, but the deadline can be pushed back by another three months.