President Vladimir Putin signaled on Wednesday that he would not let former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden's application for temporary asylum in Russia derail relations with the United States.
Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for revealing details of U.S. government intelligence programs, has been in the transit area of a Moscow airport since June 23 and wants to be able to stay in Russia until he can find sanctuary elsewhere.
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Asked whether the affair would cast a shadow over a U.S.-Russia summit due in September in Moscow, Putin told reporters: "Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services."
Putin, visiting the Siberian town of Chita, did not say whether he expected Russia to grant temporary asylum to Snowden, but reiterated that Moscow had told the American he must stop any activities that might harm the United States.
Snowden, 30, says the United States has prevented him from flying to Latin America, where Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela have offered to give him refuge, by putting pressure on other countries not to help him escape U.S. justice.