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June 27, 2013

Obama: 'Significant Vulnerability' at US Spy Agency

by VOA News

U.S. President Barack Obama says the disclosure of the government's clandestine surveillance programs by a former intelligence contractor shows there is a "pretty significant vulnerability" at the secretive National Security Agency.

At a news conference Thursday in Senegal, however, the U.S. leader said he has no intention of "wheeling, dealing and trading" with foreign governments to secure the return of Edward Snowden to stand trial on espionage charges.

​​Snowden fled to Hong Kong and leaked details of two NSA programs that monitor telephone and Internet communications in the United States. Later Snowden flew to Russia, where he is living in a transit zone at a Moscow airport while seeking asylum in Ecuador.

Obama said he had not called either Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin to request Snowden's extradition. The president said he "should not have to" and the extradition request should be dealt with through "regular legal channels."   

"This is something that routinely is dealt with between law enforcement officials in various countries," said the president.

Putin said Russia does not plan to extradite Snowden to the United States.

If Snowden leaves Russia on a flight to another country, Obama said he has no intention of trying to force down his aircraft to capture him.

"No, I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker," said Obama.