གཟའ་ཟླ་བ། ༢༠༢༢/༡༡/༢༨

Russia: Snowden Didn't Enter Its Territory

A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency, is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, Beijing, June 13, 2013 file photo.
Russia is denying Edward Snowden has entered its territory, although the former American intelligence contractor wanted by the United States is believed to be in the international transit zone of a Moscow airport.

Snowden is believed to have flown Sunday to Moscow from Hong Kong, where he had been in hiding after revealing a pair of top secret U.S. surveillance programs and other confidential intelligence.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Snowden has not crossed the Russian border and denied Russian involvement in Snowden's plans.

"He independently chose his route, and we learned as did everyone else from the mass media," Lavrov said. "He did not cross the Russian border, and we think all of the attempts that were are now witnessing, attempts to accuse the Russian side of violating U.S. law and almost conspiring, accompanied by threats towards us are totally unfounded and unacceptable."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of negative consequences if Russia does not extradite Snowden.

The White House also blasted Beijing for "deliberately" allowing Snowden to leave Hong Kong, despite a valid warrant for his arrest. It said the move "unquestionably" damaged U.S.-China relations.

Beijing foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying denied the U.S. accusations.

"U.S. allegations against China are baseless," Hua said. "China's position over bilateral relations is clear. It is to the interest of both parties to preserve and strengthen dialogue and cooperation, control disputes and friction, work to bring more progress."

Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said Monday Snowden has asked for asylum in his country. Patino said his government has been in contact with Moscow.

Snowden leaked documents showing that U.S. intelligence services have gathered data for years about patterns of telephone and Internet use. He said he believes the programs violate the privacy rights of citizens.

U.S. officials say the surveillance programs look for patterns in use, including information on the time, date and numbers called. U.S. authorities say the programs prevented at least 50 terrorist attacks worldwide since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. They have accused Snowden of weakening their ability to foil future plots.