WASHINGTON — If nothing changes in either President Obama’s travel schedule or Edward Snowden’s living conditions over the next few weeks, Obama and Snowden will find themselves in the same city at the same time this September.
For now, the White House isn’t ruling out the possibility — but it isn’t ruling it in either. Snowden’s presence in Moscow could pose a problem for the White House, which has continued to try and navigate a fine line between calling Russia out for not extraditing Snowden and insisting the man behind the NSA leaks doesn’t need to drive a wedge between the U.S. and the Russian regime.
President Obama is scheduled to travel to Moscow in early September to have a one-on-one summit with Vladimir Putin, the man in the middle of the Snowden saga. The Russian president’s government is being lobbied by Obama’s team to extradite Snowden back to the U.S., and simultaneously being pushed by Snowden and his supporters to grant Snowden asylum. While he waits to see what will happen, Snowden is living in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.
With the summit approaching, Snowden’s lawyer told reporters Tuesday that his client will be staying in the airport for the time being. That could leave it up to Obama to change his plans if he wants to avoid the circus that will ensue if the two men are in the same city at once.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney ducked questions about the Moscow trip Tuesday, but said the president’s trip to Russia, where he’s also scheduled to stop in St. Petersburg for a G-20 summit, is still on.
“The president intends to travel to Russia in September,” Carney said. “And I don’t have anything to add to our previous announcements on presidential travel.”
Pressed on Moscow specifically, Carney didn’t answer.
“I’m just saying that the president intends to go to Russia,” he said. Via email, he reiterated the point.
“I really don’t have anything to add to what we’ve announced about the President’s travel,” Carney wrote.