MOSCOW, June 27, 2013 (AFP) – Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden’s situation has hit a “dead end,” with Moscow refusing to respond to Washington’s unofficial requests to hand over the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, a Russian official said Thursday.
An unnamed Russian source close to the matter told Interfax news agency that Moscow had not received a formal extradition request from the United States.
“There have been contacts at an unofficial level, along diplomatic channels, with a request to detain and deport” Snowden, the unnamed official said.
But considering current strains in Russian-US relations over human rights issues and the Syria conflict, Moscow has refused to respond, the source said.
“These are not the grounds for any serious steps to be taken by Russia, especially considering the uneasy state of our bilateral relations,” the official said.
“The situation around Snowden is at a dead end.”
A US official however said since there was no US-Russia extradition treaty, Washington could not make a formal request for Snowden to be extradited. US officials were “in touch frequently with the Russians” on the case.
“We’re making clear through bilateral channels our strong desire to have him returned to the United States, and the Russians are very clear about how we feel about Mr. Snowden,” acting deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
Snowden spent Thursday holed up in a Moscow airport transit zone for a fifth day, awaiting a decision on his request for political asylum in Ecuador.
The 30-year-old arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on a regular Aeroflot airlines flight on Sunday.
The Russian source suggested that the situation will only be resolved once Ecuador or another country decides to grant Snowden political asylum.
“The resolution will come when the authorities of any given country offer asylum to the former CIA agent,” the source said.
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