The United States wont be scrambling military jets or engaging in high-level diplomatic bartering to get National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden extradited to the US,President Barack Obama said Thursday.
Dismissing him as a 29-year-old hacker,Obama sought to downplay the international chase for Snowden,lowering the temperature of an issue that has already raised tensions between the US and uneasy partners Russia and China.
Obama said the damage to US national security has already been done and his top focus now is making sure it cant happen again.
Im not going to have one case with a suspect who were trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where Ive got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues,simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system, Obama said at a joint news conference with Senegals President Macky Sall.
Snowden turned 30 last week. He was working as a government contractor with security clearance when he seized the NSA documents.
Snowdens intercontinental efforts to shirk US authorities – taking him from a hotel hideout in Hong Kong to an airport transit zone in Moscow,where hes believed to be holed up – has already undercut Obamas efforts to strengthen ties with China and threatened to worsen tensions with Russia just as Obama is seeking Moscows cooperation on Syria. At the same time,Snowdens attempts to seek asylum from Ecuador and other nations have underscored Obamas limited sway in a number of foreign capitals.
Obama said he hadnt personally called either Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping to request their cooperation.
I shouldnt have to, he declared.
Obama said such matters are routinely dealt with at a law-enforcement level,calling Snowdens extradition not exceptional from a legal perspective.
My continued expectation is that Russia or other countries that have talked about potentially providing Snowden asylum recognize that they are a part of an international community and they should be abiding by international law, Obama said,noting that the US doesnt have a formal extradition treaty with Russia.
Snowden asylum document unauthorized
QUITO: Ecuadors diplomatic mission in London issued a safe-conduct pass so NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden could travel to Ecuador to seek political asylum,but the action was unauthorized and the pass is invalid,government officials said Thursday. Ecuadorean officials have repeatedly expressed sympathy for Snowden,but have insisted they have taken no decision on granting him asylum. AP