(DAKAR, Senegal) — President Obama says the manhunt for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will someday make for a great TV movie, but he is not getting personally involved or doing any “wheeling and dealing and trading” to get him back.
Obama said he has called neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping to ask that Snowden be turned over because “I shouldn’t have to” — expelling a criminal should be a routine legal matter.
“No, I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama said at a joint news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Dakar Thursday.
“We’ve got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia and I’m not going to have one case of a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I’ve got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so that he can face the justice system here in the United States,” Obama said.
While he is still concerned that Snowden could release more classified documents, Obama suggested most of the damage is already done.
“I get why this is a fascinating issue,” he said. “But in terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks.”
Obama’s primary focus, he said, is fixing the NSA to be sure leaks like this do not happen again.
But the president also said his administration has had “useful conversations” with the Russian government and is pressing hard to get Snowden turned over.
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