Speaking at a news conference while on an official visit to Finland, Mr. Putin offered no new information on where Mr. Snowden might be headed from the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, where he has been ensconced, out of public view, for the past two days. But he said Mr. Snowden had broken no Russian laws.
“Mr. Snowden is a free man,” Mr. Putin said, “and the sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it will be both for us and for him.”
Mr. Putin also said Mr. Snowden's arrival "was a complete surprise for us" and that as a transit passenger, “he doesn’t need a visa or other documents. As a transit passenger, he has a right to buy a ticket and fly wherever he wants.”
He sought to refute suggestions that Russian security officials might be talking to Mr. Snowden, who is believed to be carrying a trove of American intelligence data on laptop computers and thumb drives. Mr. Putin said they “have never worked with Mr. Snowden and are not working with him now.”
The remarks by Mr. Putin were the most definitive and extensive from the Russian government on Mr. Snowden, whose successful effort, so far, to elude his American pursuers has captivated global attention, showed the limits of American power and strained American relations with both Russia and China. Mr. Snowden flew to Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong despite an American request that the authorities there arrest him.
Mr. Putin said American accusations that Russia was abetting a fugitive “are just a nightmare and nonsense,” and he appeared to end any possibility that Russia would extradite Mr. Snowden. (Continues at NYT)