President Obama said on Thursday that while he is concerned about Edward Snowden and wants to bring the NSA leaker back to America, he's not interested in "wheeling and dealing and trading" to get him extradited. Obama, at the first press conference on his week-long trip to Africa, took questions from the media while in Dakar, Senegal, but naturally everyone wants to talk about the news from home. When asked if he had personally spoken to Vladimir Putin or Xi Jingping, Obama said, "I shouldn't have to" because the case is being handled through the usual diplomatic and legal channels. Although, if the U.S. envoy to Hong Kong is correct, those usual diplomatic channels have become very frayed because of this incident.
Obama was even specifically asked if the U.S. would "interdict" any flights that happen to roam though American airspace with Snowden on board (as many flights to Cuba do). The president responded by saying he wouldn't be "scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker." (Snowden actually turned 30 a week ago.)
Meanwhile, Snowden still has not been seen or photographed by anyone in the media since allegedly leaving Hong Kong for Moscow over the weekend, even though both the Russian and the U.S. government insist he's still there. Univision also published what they claim is a copy of the Ecuadorian "SAFEPASS" that allegedly allowed Snowden to travel on an international flight despite having his passport revoked. It's not known if he actually has a copy of this letter or ever used it, but it says it was issued in London on June 22, suggesting that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy there for a year — orchestrated the assistance.
As for Ecuador, they deny that they have given Snowden any help yet, but are still behaving as if they plan to. The country's communications minister said on Thursday that they would "unilaterally and irrevocably renounce" certain trade preferences that have been granted to them by the U.S. and are up for renewal. The millions in economic benefits are meant to help Ecuador fight the drug war, but Minister Fernando Alvarado says they are really a form of "blackmail."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.