Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden remains at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and expressed hope that this case will not affect U.S.-Russian relations.

Photo: AP

President Vladimir Putin said that former CIA employee Edward Snowden remains in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, and dismissed all criticism of Russia with regard to his arrival as "absurd."  

"Mr. Snowden did arrive in Moscow. It came as a complete surprise to us," he said at a press conference in Turku, following talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto. "He arrived as a transit passenger. He does not need a visa or any other documents."

"As a transit passenger he has the right to buy a ticket and fly wherever he wants. He did not cross the state border, therefore he does not need a visa," the president stressed. "Any accusations aimed at Russia are nonsense and absurdity."

"He is in the transit zone as a transit passenger and remains there still," Putin said.

At the same time, Putin expressed hope that the situation involving Snowden won't have negative implications for Russian-U.S. relations.

"I hope this won't affect the businesslike nature of our relations with the United States. I hope our partners will understand this," he said. "Mr. Snowden is a free man. The faster he chooses his ultimate destination, the better for us and for him."

"Our special services have never worked with Mr. Snowden and are not working with him today," Putin added.

Russia may extradite criminals or suspects only to countries with which it has a relevant bilateral agreement, and there is no such agreement between Russia and the United States, Putin said, apparently in light of U.S. efforts to secure Snowden's extradition.

"Thank God, Mr. Snowden has not committed any crimes on Russian Federation territory," Putin added.

He recalled the situation surrounding WikiLeaks editor and founder Julian Assange, whom the United States also put on a "wanted" list some time ago.

"As well as Snowden, he considers himself a human rights defender and is fighting for the free flow of information. Ask yourself, 'should such people be extradited and jailed, or not?' In any case, I would prefer not to deal with such issues, because this is just like shaving a pig: too much noise, but too little hair," Putin said. "Let [FBI Director Robert] Mueller and [Russian Federal Security Service Director Alexander] Bortnikov deal with this issue."

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Minsitry believes that Snowden did not cross the Russian border. It is unacceptable to accuse Russia of a conspiracy and of violating U.S. laws, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow.

"We deem absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable the attempts we are witnessing to accuse the Russian side of violating U.S. laws, which, above all, are accompanied by threats," Lavrov said. "There are no legal grounds whatsoever for this behavior of U.S. officials."

The article is a combined report based on materials from Interfax.

This article first appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines.