MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that his country had never extradited anyone before and added that United States fugitive Edward Snowden could remain in Moscow if he stopped issuing his leaks.
“Russia never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention to do so,” Putin said when grilled by reporters about the fate of the U.S. intelligence leaker believed to be holed up in a Moscow airport’s transit zone since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.
Putin essentially extended an invitation for Snowden to remain in Russia permanently if he stopped leaking U.S. intelligence information.
“If he [Snowden] wants to remain here there is one condition — he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me,” Putin said.
The Russian leader reiterated that Russian services were not working with the U.S. fugitive.
“He is not our agent and does not cooperate with us,” Putin said. “Our secret services never worked with him and are not working with him now.”
“He does not feel like he is an agent of the secret services, he considers himself to be a human rights campaigner, a new dissident, something like Sakharov,” Putin said, referring to famous Soviet-era rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov.