NOVO-OGARYOVO, August 1 (RIA Novosti) – The controversy around fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, is not of great importance and cannot harm US-Russian relations, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
“This issue is not important enough to affect political relations,” aide Yury Ushakov told reporters, adding that Moscow was interested in the development of ties with Washington “in all areas.”
Ushakov also said Russia was unaware of reported plans by US President Barack Obama to cancel an upcoming visit to Russia in light of the Snowden standoff.
“We know about speculations over this issue in America, but we have not received any official signals from US authorities,” Ushakov said.
The New York Times and some other US media outlets earlier reported that Obama might cancel scheduled talks with Putin in Moscow during a G20 summit in September.
Snowden, who had been staying in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23, reportedly left the airport on Thursday after being given an official document granting him one-year temporary asylum.
Washington had repeatedly called for Moscow to reject Snowden’s asylum request and send him back to the United States, where he is wanted on espionage and theft charges for leaking classified information about US surveillance programs that allegedly targeted millions of Americans.