The United States has been pressuring Russia to extradite National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, while it has been ignoring Russian extradition requests for years.
A deputy Russian prosecutor general said on Wednesday that five of Russia’s extradition requests sent to the United States in the past few years have been left unanswered.
“Since 2008, the United States has refused 16 times to extradite people to us citing the absence of a relevant treaty,” Deputy Russian Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily newspaper.
“We have been insisting on concluding such a treaty but have been getting a refusal based on unconvincing arguments,” he added. “Another five of our requests sent to the United States in 2011-2012 have not been answered.”
Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA), is wanted by the United States on espionage and other charges after he gave journalists classified documents detailing the NSA’s far-reaching electronic and telephone surveillance programs.
On August 1, Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia. He is free to stay in Russia until at least July 31, 2014, and his asylum status may be extended annually upon request.
Snowden, a former intelligence worker for both the NSA and the CIA, leaked classified information to the Guardian and Washington Post pertaining to alleged NSA eavesdropping on telephone calls and emails of private citizens.
After fleeing his home in Hawaii, Snowden arrived in Moscow airport, via Hong Kong. After staying in the airport for more than a month, the Russian government decided to grant him political asylum.
U.S. President Barack Obama reacted angrily to Russia’s move and, in response, cancelled a planned G20 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zvyagintsev said, however, that Russia has not received any official request for Snowden’s extradition from the United States.
In an attempt to convince Russia to turn over Snowden, the United States has told Moscow it will not seek the death penalty nor torture the leaker.
The assurances came in a letter that Attorney General Eric Holder sent last month to Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov.