President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has not spoken to his Russian and Chinese counterparts about leaker Edward Snowden, who remains as a fugitive, because he does not want to damage larger relationships with the nations.
"I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally," Obama said at a news conference with Senegal President Macky Sall Thursday. "I shouldn't have to. This is something that routinely is dealt with between law enforcement officials in various countries. And this is not exceptional from a legal perspective."
Obama said he does not want to engage in "wheeling and dealing" with his sometimes rivals in China and Russia and would not have the U.S. military return him.
“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” he said.
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Obama said his administration is trying to return Snowden to the United States through the regular and appropriate legal mechanisms. But he said he is more concerned about trying to prevent more classified information from being leaked.
“I get why it’s a fascinating story from a press perspective. I’m sure there will be a made-for-TV movie,” Obama said.
Snowden, 30, after the former CIA employee and National Security Administration contractor revealed himself to be the leaker of classified documents about surveillance programs. The U.S. government has charged him with various crimes under the espionage act. He remains in Russia.
Obama told reporters that he was “making sure that we are doing everything we can” to prevent future unauthorized disclosure of classified materials.
“We don’t know what Mr. Snowden’s motives were,” he said. “But it does show some pretty significant vulnerabilities over at the NSA that we have to solve.”