Could Russia swap Edward Snowden for Viktor Bout?

(CBS News) National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, currently believed to be stuck in diplomatic limbo at a Moscow airport, has requested asylum from 21 countries, according to Wikileaks. CBS News' Liz Palmer reports that he has repealed his request to stay in Russia after Russian president Vladimir Putin said Monday that he will have to stop leaking U.S. secrets in order to be granted asylum in Russia.

Palmer added that the U.S. and Russia have been talking continuously to resolve the dispute around Snowden. The process, CBS News' John Miller said Tuesday, has become "a law enforcement to law enforcement thing," with FBI director Robert Muller liaising with his counterpart at the FSB, the Russian equivalent of the FBI, about the fate of Snowden.

However, Miller warned that the frequent and promising but opaque ongoing talks are "a little bit reminiscent of what we saw in Hong Kong," where Snowden was staying prior to his arrival in Moscow.

"The U.S. is getting responsive conversation but nobody in Russia is saying, 'Here's the plan.' It's just floating," Miller said.

The U.S. faces several options, according to Miller: the Russians could decide to simply hand Snowden over to American authorities, which would be "ideal from an American standpoint," or they could extradite Snowden to "country X." "And then it becomes between the U.S. and Country X," Miller added.

Viktor Bout
In this Nov. 16, 2010, file photo, Russian arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout, arrives in New York.
AP

A third option -- an "odd possibility" according to Miller -- is "that there could be some kind of deal" where the Russians request the return of a Russian citizen being held in the U.S. in exchange for Snowden. A person of interest for Russia could be Viktor Bout, the infamous Russian arms dealer. However, Miller explained, "that's a tough deal because what we do is spy-to-spy trades, not accused criminal for accused criminal."

Russia has previously requested the return of Bout, who was sentenced on April 5, 2012, to 25 years imprisonment by a U.S. judge for selling heavy arms to a Colombian rebel group.