President Obama defended the fact that he has not “personally” called either Chinese Premier Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin about their aiding and abetting of Edward Snowden’s flight from the law because “we have issued through our Justice Department very clear requests to both initially Hong Kong and then Russia that we seek the extradition of Mr. Snowden.”
Snowden is apparently at a transit area of Moscow’s airport while waiting for his extradition request to be processed by Ecuador. Putin said he won’t hand over the NSA leaker.
“We are going through the regular legal channels that are involved when we try to extradite somebody. I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally. And the reason is because, number one, I shouldn’t have to,” Obama said at a Senegal press conference today. “This is something that routinely is dealt with between law enforcement officials in various countries. And this is not exceptional from a legal perspective.”
The president added that “we’ve got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia.”
“And I’m not going to have one case of a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I’ve got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues simply to get a guy extradited, so that he can face the Justice system here in the United States. I get why it’s a fascinating story from a press perspective. And I’m sure there will be a made-for-TV movie somewhere down the line. But in terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks,” Obama continued.
“Now, we don’t have an extradition treaty with Russia, which makes it more complicated. You don’t have to have an extradition treaty though to resolve some of these issues. There have been some useful conversations that have taken place between the United States government and the Russian government. And my continued expectation is that Russia or other countries that have talked about potentially providing Mr. Snowden asylum recognize that they are part of an international community, and that they should be abiding by international law. And we’ll continue to press them as hard as we can to make sure that they do so,” he said.”
“…I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”