The White House delivered a terse warning to Russia and President Vladimir Putin Tuesday afternoon, saying it had a “clear legal basis” to expel National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden from the country.
The statement from National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden came after Putin bluntly rejected a U.S. request for extradition, saying Russia did not have reason to expel Snowden because he has not committed any crimes in Russia.
Hayden said that the pending U.S. charges against him should be enough to warrant expelling Snowden, and warned Russia of the potential harm to bilateral relations between the two countries if it did not comply.
The full statement:
“We’ve seen comments by Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin and we understand that Russia must consider the issues raised by Mr. Snowden’s decision to travel there. We agree with President Putin that we do not want this issue to negatively impact our bilateral relations. While we do not have an extradition treaty with Russia, there is nonetheless a clear legal basis to expel Mr. Snowden, based on the status of his travel documents and the pending charges against him. Accordingly, we are asking the Russian Government to take action to expel Mr. Snowden without delay and to build upon the strong law enforcement cooperation we have had, particularly since the Boston Marathon bombing.”
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