President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he wouldn't be scrambling military jets to secure the capture of National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden, saying he wouldn't participate in "wheeling and dealing" to get Snowden extradited back to the United States.
"I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker," Obama said of Snowden at a press conference Thursday in Senegal, Africa. Snowden actually turned 30 years old last week.
Obama also said that he has not spoken to China President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin about Snowden's extradition.
"I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally," Obama said. "And the reason is because, No. 1: I shouldn’t have to."
Obama has come under some criticism from Republicans in Congress in recent days for the failure to bring Snowden back to the U.S. Snowden departed from Hong Kong on Sunday and has now been in Russia for five days. His original departure from Hong Kong set off a mad scramble to find him, including a group of journalists who were fooled into boarding a flight without him.
Thus far, Putin has bluntly rejected the White House's requests for extradition, saying it did not have reason to extradite Snowden because he had not committed any crimes in Russia. On Tuesday, the White House pushed Russia's government to "expel Mr. Snowden without delay."
Snowden, a former NSA contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, was charged on June 14 with three felonies after leaking a trove of secrets about the NSA's surveillance programs. Each of the felonies carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.