DAKAR, Senegal -- “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” President Obama said Thursday as he sought to downplay the nearly weeklong hunt for Edward Snowden, the fugitive leaker of national security secrets.
“I get you that it’s a fascinating story for the press,” Obama told reporters at a news conference with Senegal’s president here. But “in terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks.”
Obama said he is interested “in making sure that the rules of extradition are obeyed,” and that U.S. officials had conducted “useful conversations” with Russian officials and officials in other countries that might be interested in offering political asylum to Snowden.
But, he said, “in the meantime, we’ve got other business to do.”
Since Sunday, when Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, hastily left Hong Kong to avoid a U.S. extradition request and flew to Moscow, the frustrated efforts by U.S. authorities to apprehend him have generated intense international interest. To some, the standoff, in which Snowden has spent much of the week in a “transit zone” at Moscow’s international airport, has become a symbol of waning U.S. power.