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President says he will not scramble jets to capture '29-year-old hacker' Edward Snowden

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. President Barack Obama appears to be taking the manhunt for whistleblower Edward Snowden somewhat lightly. On the first leg of his extensive visit in Africa, the president says he has no plans to disrupt relations with Russia and China, or to scramble jets to capture a "29-year-old hacker."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Journalists say the president struck a seemingly dismissive tone regarding Snowden. A former defense contractor who claimed to have leaked details of two top-secret government data-gathering programs, Snowden has become the focus of an international manhunt that has grown to involve the governments of China, Ecuador and Russia.

While admitting the incident has the makings of a big-screen spy caper, Obama would not engage in "wheeling and dealing and trading and a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system here in the United States."

Snowden is believed to still be hiding at a Moscow airport awaiting a ruling on his request for asylum from the government of Ecuador. Snowden flew to Russia from Hong Kong over the weekend. He hasn't been seen since his arrival. Russian officials say Snowden remains in a transit area at Sheremetyevo airport. He didn't board a plane to Havana this, which was his presumed first stop to the South American country.

"Now I get why it's a fascinating story from a press perspective and I'm sure there will be a made-for-TV movie somewhere down the line," Obama said, adding that "In terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks."

The president did admit that the incident resolved "some pretty significant vulnerabilities" at the National Security Agency, Obama said.

Snowden worked for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton before being fired. In an interview with the Chinese press, Snowden admitted that he took the job to gain access to sensitive information.

"There have been some useful conversations that have taken place between the United States government and the Russian government," Obama said. "And my continued expectation is that Russia - there are other countries that have talked about potentially providing Mr. Snowden asylum - recognize that they are part of an international community and that they should be abiding by international law."

There is a very real concern, amid the flippancy that Snowden might have other documents in his possession that he may "dribble out," Obama said.

"I continue to be concerned about the other documents that he may have. That's part of the reason why we'd like to have Mr. Snowden in custody," Obama said. "But what I think we're going to continue to do is [making] sure that we are following the various channels that are well established and the rules that are well established to get this thing done."

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