[UPDATE 11:19 a.m. EDT] Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden remains in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport and rejected U.S. appeals to extradite the American citizen, according to Russia's RT television station.
Putin said Snowden had not committed any crimes and is free to travel as he pleases. The U.S. has asked Russia to extradite Snowden.
[UPDATE 10:17 a.m. EDT] Speaking from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said of the Edward Snowden affair: "I would simply appeal for calm and reasonableness. We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is 'a fugitive' from justice." [London Telegraph]
Kerry is on a visit to Saudi Arabia to drum up support for Syria’s rebels. Russia opposes efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
[UPDATE 9:30 a.m. EDT] Accused American spy Edward Snowden didn't board a flight from Moscow to Cuba on Tuesday, ABC News reports. Snowden could still be inside Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.
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Original story begins here:
Russian authorities added to the mystery of Edward Snowden’s whereabouts by insisting on Tuesday that he hasn't entered Russian territory.
It's widely believed that the 30-year-old former IT contractor wanted by the U.S. for leaking details of a secret government electronic-surveillance program departed Sunday for Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport from Hong Kong.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a Moscow news conference that Snowden hasn't crossed into Russia, which suggests he might still be in what is known as “airside” – that part of the airport reserved for aircraft arrivals and departures inside the airport’s security cordon but technically outside a country’s national boundaries.
"We are in no way involved with either Mr. Snowden, his relations with U.S. justice, nor to his movements around the world," Lavrov said, according to the BBC.
With the assistance of controversial antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, Snowden is believed to be trying to get to Ecuador or another sympathetic country to seek asylum. The North Carolina native’s whereabouts have been a mystery since his arrival in Moscow. He's reportedly being assisted by Sarah Harrison, a legal researcher for WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, China’s official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, praised Snowden’s actions for "tearing off Washington's sanctimonious mask.”