President Obama has said he won't engage in any 'wheeling, dealing and trading' to get NSA leaker Edward Snowden extradited from Russia to the United States.
'I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get to a 29-year-old hacker,' the president said of the whistleblower during his trip to Dakar, Senegal on Thursday.
Snowden, who is actually 30, fled to Hong Kong last month ahead of leaking details about an NSA surveillance program. He is now in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.
Despite the U.S. urging Russia to extradite him immediately, President Vladimir Putin refused, saying there is no extradition treaty with the U.S., and Snowden has not committed any crimes in his country.
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His failure to fly out of the airport, where he has been for five days, could suggest he is struggling to buy a ticket without the proper documents after U.S. authorities revoked his passport.
He previously booked a flight for Havana, Cuba, yet failed to take it and the Washington Post reported he did not board the last flight there today. The next possible flight to Cuba is Saturday.
Until he leaves the airport, he must remain in the transit area. For such a long stay, he must have secured a transit visa from a consulate operating in the zone.
Speaking dismissively of the situation, Obama said that he has not personally called Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping to request they extradite Snowden, adding: 'I shouldn't have to.'
He said that the documents leaked by Snowden have had their effect but that the government has responded that the surveillance programs are conducted legally and with proper oversight.
He added that Snowden's story has the makings of a big-screen spy film or a 'made-for-TV movie'.
The comments come after it emerged that the U.S. embarrassingly failed to extradite Snowden from Hong Kong after using the wrong middle name on papers.
Provisional arrest warrant documents listed his middle name as James, whereas it is Joseph. In other papers, he was just called Edward J. Snowden, Hong Kong's Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen said.
When Hong Kong asked the U.S. for clarification last Friday, they failed to respond in time for officials to stop Snowden's flight to Russia on Sunday.
'Until the minute of Snowden's departure, the U.S. government hadn't yet replied to our requests for clarification,' Yuen told the Wall Street Journal. 'Hong Kong's government had no legal basis to block his departure.'
It is believed he hopes to seek asylum in Ecuador, a process which could take months.
Hideout: He is in the transit area of Sheremetievo airport in Moscow after flying from Hong Kong on Sunday
No sign of Snowden: Passengers wait in the transit area of the airport where Snowden has been for days
WHERE IS HE? NO SIGN OF EDWARD SNOWDEN IN MOSCOW AIRPORT
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino compared Snowden's case to that of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
'It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time,' Patino told reporters.
Snowden, who is charged with violating American espionage laws, fled Hong Kong on Sunday and flew to Russia.
Russia only acknowledged his arrival only on Tuesday, when President Vladimir Putin said Snowden was still in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that he remained there on Wednesday.
Snowden had also booked a seat on a Havana-bound flight on Monday en route to Venezuela and then possible asylum in Ecuador, but he failed to board the plane.
Despite U.S. officials called for Snowden to be extradited immediately, but Russia said it would not as they have no extradition treaty with the country and Snowden has not committed a crime in Russia.
'He hasn't violated any of our laws, he hasn't crossed our border, he is in the transit zone of the airport and has the right to fly in any direction he wants,' Lavrov said.
Asked if Ecuador would provide protection to Snowden while considering his request for asylum, Patino said through a translator that if Snowden 'goes to the embassy, then we will make a decision.'
Patino refused to say what criteria his government would use, but added that it would 'consider all these risks', including whether it could hurt trade with the U.S. and damage Ecuador's economy.
Hurdles: Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said it could take months to secure asylum for Snowden
WikiLeaks gave a terse update on Snowden's condition earlier on Wednesday, saying in a statement posted to Twitter that Snowden was 'well'.
WikiLeaks says that one of its staffers, Sarah Harrison, was traveling with Snowden, but the statement gave no indication if the update came from her, from Snowden, or from some other source.
In a conference with reporters on Monday, Assange said that he was limited in what he could say about Snowden due to security concerns. He denied reports that Snowden was spending his time at the airport being debriefed by Russian intelligence officers.