President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Tuesday a former U.S. spy agency contractor sought by the United States was in the transit area of a Moscow airport but ruled out handing him over to Washington, dismissing U.S. criticisms as "ravings and rubbish".

In his first public comments since the fugitive flew in on Sunday, he appeared to make light of the affair around Edward Snowden, whose flight from U.S. authorities is becoming an increasing embarrassment for President Barack Obama. Asked by a journalist about the affair, he smiled fleetingly.

"I myself would prefer not to deal with these issues. It's like shearing a piglet: there's a lot of squealing, but there's little wool," he told a news conference in Finland.