President Barack Obama said he was "not going to be scrambling jets" to capture Edward Snowden, the contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.
Speaking at a news conference in Senegal Thursday, Obama said the United States will not trade on international issues with other nations or engage in high-level diplomatic bargains to retrieve Snowden.
The international chase for Snowden, who is believed to be at a Moscow airport, has drawn massive media attention and confrontational comments from world leaders, all of which Obama seemingly downplayed Thursday.
"I'm not going to have one case with a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system," Obama said.
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However, in a clear warning to Ecuador, where Snowden has applied for asylum, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said granting the request could severely damage the preferential trade treatment Ecuadorean products receive.
"If Snowden is granted asylum in Ecuador, I will lead the effort to prevent the renewal of Ecuador's duty-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences," said Sen. Robert Menendez in a statement on Wednesday.
Obama, who dismissed Snowden as that "29-year-old hacker,” said he has not and would probably not speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping about the former defense contractor.
"I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally and the reason is ... number one, I shouldn't have to," Obama said.
Snowden, who leaked top-secret details on two government data-gathering programs, is believed to still have in his possession more potentially damaging information.
“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 Snowden in custody,” Obama said. “But what I think we’re going to continue to do is make sure that we are following the various channels that are well established and the rules that are well established to get this thing done.”