Speaking to reporters in Finland, Mr. Putin said Russia does not have an extradition agreement with the United States and thus wouldn’t meet the U.S. request to hand over the 30-year-old former NSA computer technician, who is wanted on felony espionage charges.
“He is a transit passenger in the transit zone and is still there now,” Mr. Putin said, CNN reported. “Mr. Snowden is a free man. The sooner he selects his final destination point, the better both for us and for himself.”
He added that Russian security agencies “didn’t work and aren’t working” with Mr. Snowden, AP reported, but he gave no details.
Mr. Snowden has remained holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since failing to show Monday for a flight to Havana that he that was booked on.
The former intelligence contractor arrived in Moscow Sunday after abruptly departing Hong Kong, the quasi-autonomous Chinese city-state, ahead of a U.S. extradition request.
Mr. Snowden has sought asylum from Ecuador, the country that is sheltering Wikileaks founder and anti-secrecy campaigner Julian Assange in its London embassy, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Monday.
He lauded Mr. Snowden as man who had exposed “a secret plan for global espionage … violating the rights of every single citizen in the world.”
Mr. Snowden fled the NSA facility in Hawaii where worked as a computer technician, carrying with him a cache of Top Secret documents about NSA surveillance programs, several of which have since been posted online by The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.