Obama downplays Snowden case, says US not 'scrambling jets' to get 'hacker'
Published June 27, 2013
President Obama said Thursday he has not gotten personally involved in the case of Ed Snowden, because he expects other countries to "abide by international law" and not provide harbor to a fugitive. At the same time, he indicated he does not plan to go to extraordinary lengths to capture the NSA leaker, saying: "No, I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."
As Republican lawmakers urge Obama to get tough with Russia as it denies extradition requests, Obama said he has not directly spoken with Russia's Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping. He flashed some annoyance as he declared he has not called either leader because "I shouldn't have to."
He noted that the U.S. does "a whole lot of business" with both countries, and said he doesn't want to be in a position where he's "wheeling and dealing and trading" just to "get a guy extradited."
The president suggested this should have been a routine bit of business for either leader, so he decided not to get personally involved.
Obama walked a fine line on the question about Snowden, addressed during a press conference in Senegal at the start of his trip to Africa. He said he "continues to be concerned about the other documents" Snowden has, but he suggested the media has hyped the story.
"I'm sure it will be a made-for-TV movie down the road," Obama said dismissively about the Snowden case.
He said the bulk of the damage has been done by the initial leak. He said the matter of trying to secure his arrest will be dealt with through the normal legal channels
"This is something that routinely is dealt with between law enforcement officials in various countries," he said.