Speaking to reporters in Finland on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden remains in the transit zone at the international airport in Moscow.
“He is a transit passenger in the transit zone and is still there now,” Putin said. “Mr. Snowden is a free man. The sooner he selects his final destination point, the better both for us and for himself.”
Putin said Snowden’s arrival in Russia was “completely unexpected.”
The White House is demanding that any country that Snowden enters give him up, so he can face espionage charges in the United States.
But Lavrov said that U.S. “accusations” against Russia over Snowden are “absolutely groundless and unacceptable.”
His comments further muddied the waters surrounding Snowden’s mysterious journey.
A flight from Moscow to Havana that Snowden was reportedly set to board took off Monday packed with journalists, including a CNN team, but without the 30-year-old American they were all hoping to interview.
Another Havana-bound flight took off Tuesday with no sign of Snowden aboard.
One person says he knows where Snowden is, but he isn’t telling.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would only say Monday that the former NSA contractor is “in a safe place and his spirits are high.” The anti-secrecy group says it’s helping Snowden find asylum.
Snowden spent several weeks hiding out in Hong Kong and causing uproar in the United States by leaking classified NSA documents to journalists. He left the semiautonomous Chinese territory Sunday on a flight to Moscow.