"The problem is not that we defended Snowden. We are not defending him in any way," Putin said in an interview ahead of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

"The problem is that we and United States do not have an agreement on mutual extradition of criminals," said the Russian president. He asserted that Moscow had invited Washington on numerous occasions to conclude such an agreement.

"We cannot judge whether Snowden committed a crime in United States or not. But we, as a sovereign country having no such agreement with United States, cannot do anything but provide him with the opportunity to stay here," Putin said. He added that Russia had not received and did not wish to obtain any secret information from Snowden.

(Agencies)

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