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Russia balks at US call for Snowden’s extradition

Putin says he is ‘free man’; still at Moscow airport

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appeared Tuesday to rule out sending Edward J. Snowden back to the United States to face espionage charges, leaving him in limbo even as Moscow and the United States seemed to be making an effort to prevent a Cold War-style standoff from escalating.

In his first public comments on the case, Putin said that Snowden — the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents about US surveillance programs — had committed no crime on Russian soil and was “a free man” who could choose his own destination. “We can only extradite some foreign nationals to the countries with which we have the relevant international agreements on extradition,” he added. “With the United States, we have no such agreement.”

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