Putin Confirms Snowden Is in Moscow Airport

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 25 2013 12:59 PM

Putin Says Snowden's Still in Moscow—and There's Nothing Russia Can (or Will) Do About It

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the presidential summer residence Kultaranta in Naantali, Finland on June 25, 2013

Photo by Kimmo Mantyla/AFP/Getty Images

As we discovered yesterday morning, Edward Snowden never boarded his scheduled flight from Moscow to Havana. But after much speculation about Snowden's whereabouts, Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially confirmed that NSA leaker-turned-fugitive is currently in an international transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, meaning he is not technically in Russia.

Even if Snowden were to pass through immigration, Putin made it clear that he's not willing to cooperate with United States officials who want the former NSA contractor on espionage charges. Putin said that Snowden would not be extradited to the United States because the two countries don't have an extradition agreement. The Associated Press has more details:

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"Our special services never worked with Mr. Snowden and aren’t working with him today," Putin said at a news conference during a visit to Finland.
Putin said that because there is no extradition agreement with the U.S., it couldn’t meet the U.S. request. "Mr. Snowden is a free man, and the sooner he chooses his final destination the better it is for us and for him," Putin said. "I hope it will not affect the business-like character of our relations with the U.S. and I hope that our partners will understand that."

Putin claims the country is treating Snowden as if he were any other traveler—although the Guardian points out that's not technically accurate: "passengers transiting through Sheremetyevo are usually given 24 hours to pass through the international transit zone." Snowden arrived on Sunday. If he's still around, it certainly appears he's receiving some type of special treatment from the Russian government.

This post has been updated for the sake of clarity.

Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate. Slate Plus members, email her here.