HARI SREENIVASAN: The diplomatic dispute over Edward Snowden escalated today, as Russia rejected American appeals to hand him over. Instead, the confessed leaker of secret surveillance programs remained at a Moscow airport terminal.
Snowden himself remained out of sight for a second day, but Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed his whereabouts during a news conference in Finland.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia: Mr. Snowden definitely visited Moscow. For us, this is totally unexpected. He has not crossed the state’s border and therefore doesn’t need a visa. And any accusations against Russia of aiding him are ravings and rubbish. He’s in the transit hall as a transit passenger now.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In essence, Putin argued, unless Snowden passes through immigration procedures at the airport, he’s technically not in Russia. Putin also denied Russian intelligence has talked to Snowden and he refused to send the fugitive back to face U.S. charges of espionage.
PRESIDENT PUTIN: As for extradition, there is no possibility. We can hand over foreign citizens to country with which we have an appropriate international agreement on the extradition of criminals. We don’t have such an agreement with the United States.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier, in Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged there’s no extradition treaty with Russia, but he said that’s no obstacle.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, United States: We’re not looking for a confrontation. We’re not ordering anybody. We’re simply requesting under a very normal procedure for the transfer of somebody, just as we transferred to Russia seven people in the last two years that they requested that we did without any clamor, without any rancor, without any argument.
HARI SREENIVASAN: U.S. officials have complained that Hong Kong let Snowden leave on Sunday, even though it does have an extradition treaty with the U.S. Today, Chinese officials said the complaints are baseless.
In the meantime, Snowden was apparently in limbo, waiting for word on whether Ecuador will grant him asylum.
In Afghanistan today, Taliban militants stormed the presidential palace compound in Kabul. The raid set off a 90-minute gun battle. Video from the scene showed smoke rising above the heavily guarded area. All eight assailants and three guards died. Afghan officials said President Karzai was there, but was unharmed.
The attack came despite the Taliban’s recent commitment to join peace talks with the U.S.
Government troops in Lebanon have secured the complex of a hardline Sunni cleric after two days of fighting there. The clashes took place in the port city of Sidon. Officials say at least 17 soldiers and 20 militants were killed. The Sunni cleric, Sheik Ahmad al-Assir, has preached against Hezbollah. That Shiite movement is aiding the Syrian government in its war with Sunni rebels.
A lone lawmaker in the Texas State Senate mounted a one-woman filibuster today to block strict new abortion curbs. Democrat Wendy Davis plans to talk for 13 hours without sitting or taking a bathroom break. If she makes it until midnight, a special session of the state legislature will automatically adjourn. Her target is a Republican bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The day’s economic news was mostly positive. A series of reports found consumer confidence at its highest level in more than five years; home prices up by the most in seven years; and factory orders for big-ticket goods higher for the third month in a row. It all sounded good to Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 100 points to close at 14,760. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to close near 3,348.
The Chicago Blackhawks celebrated today after winning the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup with a stunning comeback. The Blackhawks trailed in game six last night with just 1:16 left on the clock, when they scored two goals within 17 seconds to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2. Hours later, they returned home, with the Cup, for the second time in four seasons.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jeff.