The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

June 25, 2013

Russia rejects U.S. demand for Snowden's extradition

— MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Tuesday that Snowden hasn't crossed the Russian border.

Sergey Lavrov insisted that Russia has nothing to do with Snowden or his travel plans. Lavrov wouldn't say where Snowden is, but he lashed out angrily at Washington for demanding his extradition and warning of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Moscow to "do the right thing" and turn over Snowden.

"We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violating U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy, which on top of all that are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable," Lavrov said. "There are no legal grounds for such conduct by U.S. officials."

The defiant tone underlined the Kremlin's readiness to challenge Washington at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are strained over Syria and a Russian ban on adoptions by Americans.

U.S. and Ecuadorean officials said they believed Snowden was still in Russia. He fled there Sunday from Hong Kong, where he had been hiding out since his disclosure of the broad scope of two highly classified U.S. counterterror surveillance programs. The programs collect vast amounts of Americans' phone records and worldwide online data in the name of national security.

Kerry said Tuesday that although the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, he called on Moscow to comply with common law practices between countries where fugitives are concerned.

"I would simply appeal for calm and reasonableness. We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is 'a fugitive' from justice,' " Kerry said at a news conference in Saudi Arabia.

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