Putin refuses to hand over `in transit` NSA whistleblower to US
Sydney: Russian president Vladimir Putin has confirmed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden`s presence at the airport in Moscow but has refused to hand over him to the US authorities.
Putin has said that he is aware of Snowden being present at Moscow`s Sheremetyevo Airport`s transit area, which means he is technically not in Russia, but has rejected US demands for handing him over, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
According to the report, a former US intelligence official believes that the classified data, which Snowden had, is long gone in the hands of the Chinese agents and if they don`t have it then the Russians have it now.
Putin has vowed that Russian authorities will not comply with the US demands and called the US accusations of helping a fugitive as `nonsense` and `rubbish` adding that Snowden is being treated like any other transit passenger.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a strong supporter of Snowden, has claimed that his team helped Snowden in escaping from Hong Kong in order to seek asylum in Ecuador .
Putin has said that both Assange and Snowden consider themselves as human rights activists and fighting for the spread of information.
However, Putin said that he would rather not deal with questions about handing Snowden to US for his evident prosecution and added that `it is like shearing a pig, lots of screams but little wool.`
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US authorities are not looking for confrontation but simply requesting the other nations to cooperate under a very normal procedure for transfer of somebody.
Kerry appealed to Russia for calm and reasonableness at the moment and there is no need to raise the level of confrontation.
Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov said that US` accusations and threats about Russia violating US laws and involved in some sort of conspiracy are `ungrounded` and `unacceptable` adding that there are no legal grounds for US officials to act like this.
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