Moscow: Adding more twist to the mystery about whereabouts of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the US whistleblower had not crossed Russian border, reports said.
Speaking at a press conference, Lavrow slammed the US for its comments against Russia in wake of the reports of Edward Snowden landing in Moscow from Hong Kong.
Terming the US statements as “groundless and unacceptable”, Lavrov said that Russia had nothing to do with Snowden’s globe-trotting, the BBC reported.
“We are in no way involved with either Mr Snowden, his relations with US justice, nor to his movements around the world,” Mr Lavrov said.
According to a BBC report, Lavrov’s comments imply that Snowden remained “airside after landing in Moscow, and so has technically never entered Russian territory”.
As per the reports so far, Snowden was supposed to have landed at Moscow airport after boarding an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong.
He had then been untraceable after failing to board his Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Havana from where he was expected to travel to Ecuador for asylum.
The airlines had confirmed that Snowden had checked in but the flight took off with no sign of the former NSA contractor.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday said that Snowden is “healthy and safe” although he refused to reveal his whereabouts.
Assange said Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday “bound for Ecuador via a safe passage through Russia and other states”.
Snowden abandoned his job in Hawaii and went to Hong Kong on May 20 to begin issuing a series of leaks on the NSA gathering of phone call logs and Internet data, triggering concern from governments around the world. The programs collect vast amounts of Americans’ phone records and worldwide online data in the name of national security.
Snowden acknowledged revealing details of the classified NSA surveillance program causing huge embarrassment to President Barack Obama’s administration. The leaks forced Obama’s administration to defend US intelligence agencies’ practice of gathering huge amounts of telephone and Internet data from private users around the world.
The Justice department of the US government later charged him with espionage and theft of government property in the NSA surveillance case.
The United States formally sought Snowden’s extradition but was rebuffed by Hong Kong officials who said the US request did not fully comply with their laws.