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MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. The United States over the past year has not raised the issue of the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday in an interview with three radio stations, Ekho Moskvy, Sputnik and Govorit Moskva.
"The Snowden situation was absolutely accidental, we simply could not act differently," he said. "The Russian president has in a most detailed way spoken out on this matter." "Over the past year neither US Secretary of State John Kerry nor his staff members have mentioned [Snowden], and our embassy has also not been bothered by anybody," the minister added.
In 2013, Snowden leaked to the media a number of documents revealing details of a global surveillance apparatus run by the US National Security Agency in close cooperation with the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
"They [the US side] regularly abduct our citizens all over the world, contrary to our bilateral agreement, stipulating that we must be at least informed that some our citizen committed a crime and asked permission to deal with him," Lavrov said. But the abductions still continue. "Just recently, another such incident has occurred, and we are currently dealing with the situation," the minister said, without giving the details.
"Snowden was on a transit flight to Latin America, to Bolivia, I think. He was to change planes in Moscow. When he was flying to Moscow the United States annulled his passport and officially announced this," the Russian foreign minister said. "That is, we even had no legal grounds to allow him the transfer. He came out and requested asylum, which was granted, because he was pursued."
The situation around Snowden is controversial, says Lavrov. According to him, there are people in the US administration who realise that "those who demand his immediate extradition are not absolutely right." "Many in the United States call Snowden a hero," the minister said.
"When we were faced with that incident one-on-one, we had no option other than allowing him to be safe wherever he wanted to stay," Lavrov said. "The Russian president has repeatedly said that we proceed from the assumption that he will not be engaged in political activity here. This was a purely humanitarian gesture, and if Snowden wants to go somewhere, he is absolutely free to go."