Image: Travellers at Sheremetyevo Airport read media reports as Edward Snowden arrives
Bobylev Sergei / Corbis

Thomas Roberts   |  June 25, 2013

Putin says Russia will not extradite Snowden

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Edward Snowden is in a transit zone of the Moscow airport and their country will not be extraditing him. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> more now on the developing news on the high stakes global game of hide-n-go seek. russian's president vladimir putin says snowden is in, quote, a transit zone of moscow 's airport. and russia will not be extraditing him. this hours after officials insisted snowden wasn't there, calling u.s. claims ungrounded and unacceptable. today we are learning much more. one of snowden 's attorneys claiming in a new interview that it was as simple as this.

>> evidently, he went through the official channel instead of being arranged to come through this cham. nothing unusual happened. everything went on as usual. as normal.

>> seems simple to me, right? joining me now, michael issikof. a lot of people will be scratching their heads about that one. but explain what is going on here.

>> well, first of all, the statement from putin does seem to clear up what was mystifying a lot of people t statement from the foreign minister that he never crossed the russian border. i spoke to kristen shortly after that statement who is the official spokesman for wikileaks who confirmed one of wikileaks 's staff members, sarah harrison , was with snowden when they flew from hong kong to moscow over the weekend. and he said at that point that perhaps it's a question of definition about being in russia , and i think putin may have cleared that up by saying he's in the transit zone. he is not officially on russian territory, but he did cross into russian air space , so that is hard to reconcile with the foreign minister's statement. that said, reading between the lines , snowden 's options may be a little more limited than people think they are for one thing putin did say he expects snowden to leave as soon as possible. so what are his options we know he has an asylum application with iceland . the iceland asylum application, in order for that to be granted, snowden has to show up there. he has to fly to iceland and make the application in person. that may be difficult to do given that he has no certainty it would be accepted. ecuador is processing it. if he has to leave the moscow transit zone, it's not clear at this point where he will go.

>> certainly being run by wikileaks right now. but in essence, is russia laughing off this extradition request by the u.s.? and this is coming after just one day of tough talk that we're hearing from secretary kerry as well as jay carney from the white house . i want to play it for everybody. take a listen.

>> we continue to hope that the russians will do the right thing. we think it's very important in terms of our relationship.

>> this was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the u.s./china relationship.

>> so through diplomatic channels and others, what are the real recourses the u.s. has at this point to get snowden back on u.s. soil?

>> well, not a lot. first off, the u.s. officials are most upset with the chinese for letting him go. and he's gone. so, you know there's not much pressure we can put on the chinese to rectify what's already happened. with the russians, putin 's comment about he wants snowden to leave fairly quickly is probably a good indicator that he doesn't want this to blow up and be a major roadblock in what are already frosty relations between the united states and israel.

>> up next, we're going to head back to the supreme court where the justices gutted major parts of the civil rights law in the country. pete williams will talk about the decisions that remain on the docket. plus the president is planning to deliver a major address on climate change. can he get anything accomplished or will he have to go it all alone? and