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Russia rejects US Snowden claims

Sergei Lavrov says Russia won’t accept blame for Edward Snowden's efforts to evade prosecution.

US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a US defence contractor during an interview with the Guardian in Hong Kong. Picture :AFP

MOSCOW - Russian officials said on Tuesday the country would not accept any blame over former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's efforts to evade prosecution in the United States, and rejected accusations by Washington as "groundless and unacceptable".

"He chose his itinerary on his own. We learnt about it ... from the media. He has not crossed the Russian border," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a joint news conference with Algeria's foreign minister in Moscow.

"We consider the attempts to accuse the Russian side of violating US laws, and practically of involvement in a plot, to be absolutely groundless and unacceptable."

Lavrov's comments were the first by a senior Russian official since Snowden arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport from Hong Kong on Sunday, starting a cat-and-mouse chase that has frayed ties between Washington and Beijing and threatened US-Russian relations.

Washington has said it believes he is still in Moscow. He has not been seen by reporters at Sheremetyevo airport and is not known to have left the transit area.

An airport source confirmed to Reuters that Snowden had arrived from Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon. He said Snowden had been booked on a flight to Havana on Monday but had not got on board. He did not say where Snowden was now.

President Vladimir Putin has kept silent about Snowden since his arrival and his spokesman has said the former KGB spy has no information about his whereabouts.

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