Moscow – Russia’s top human rights official said on Thursday that it was impossible to extradite American whistle-blower Edward Snowden to the United States.
“According to international conventions, a person who has requested temporary asylum must not be handed
over,” the head of the presidential human rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, told the Interfax news agency.
Fedotov also argued that, because Snowden was still in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow cannot hand him over because he is legally not in Russia. “Whatever happens, we can do nothing to please our American partners,” he said.
The fugitive intelligence leaker has been stuck at the airport for four weeks. Washington insists that Snowden should be handed over to the US, where he is sought on espionage charges.
The State Department said on Wednesday that the US would be “deeply disappointed” if Moscow allowed him to leave the transit zone. Earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Snowden had been widely expected to emerge from the transit zone on Wednesday. However, his Russian lawyer said after meeting him at the airport that unspecified bureaucratic difficulties had held him up.
The US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said on Thursday that the US is not asking for “extradition”, but simply for “the return” of Mr Snowden. “We have sent many people back to Russia,” he wrote on Twitter.
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