News / USA

US Presses Russia to Turn Snowden Over

A Russian policeman stands outside the embassy of Ecuador in Moscow, June 24, 2013.
A Russian policeman stands outside the embassy of Ecuador in Moscow, June 24, 2013.
VOA News
The U.S. says it is pressuring Russia to expel an intelligence contractor to the United States to face espionage charges for his disclosure of clandestine American surveillance programs.

In his secretive hide-and-seek run for asylum, Edward Snowden had been booked on a Monday flight from Moscow to Havana, with his possible eventual destination Ecuador, where he is seeking asylum. But the flight to the Cuban capital left with no sign of him on board.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose secret-disclosing organization is assisting Snowden, said the American fugitive is safe, but declined to disclose where he is.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. has frequently returned criminal suspects to Russia and said it expected to Russia to turn over the 30-year-old Snowden to American authorities.

Carney criticized China for what he said was Beijing's "deliberate choice" to allow Snowden to fly Sunday from Hong Kong to Moscow. He said the Chinese decision "unquestionably" damaged relations between the U.S. and China.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to India, said U.S. authorities "don't know, specifically, where [Snowden] may head, or what his intended destination may be."

Ecuador's foreign minister, Richard Patino, said at a news conference in Vietnam that Snowden had asked for asylum but he "can't give information on Snowden's whereabouts." Patino said his government has been in contact with Moscow.

Kerry said it "would be deeply troubling" for Hong Kong and Russia to allow Snowden to continue his international journey to escape prosecution in the U.S.    

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says the White House is disappointed that Snowden was allowed to leave Hong Kong despite a "legally valid" request for his arrest. The statement early Monday says the United States has registered "strong objections" with authorities in Hong Kong and the Chinese government. Assange said Snowden had a "refugee document of passage" from the Ecuadorian government before leaving Hong Kong.

Ecuador says it is analyzing Snowden's request for asylum. Patino said it would consider the asylum request based on the "principles of its constitution."

Quito has often criticized U.S. foreign policy, and Patino noted that the U.S. has refused in the past to extradite "fugitive bankers...who have hurt the interests of many Ecuadorians."

U.S. officials say Snowden's passport was revoked before he left Hong Kong for Moscow. The government has advised countries where Snowden may pass through or serve as his final destination that he is wanted on felony charges and should not be allowed to travel internationally.

Ecuador has sheltered Assange at its London embassy for the past year to prevent his possible extradition to the Sweden where he is under investigation for sexual assault. His lawyers say Assange fears he will be sent to the United States in connection with the group's publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010.

Snowden leaked documents showing that U.S. intelligence services have gathered data for years about patterns of telephone and Internet use. He said he believes the programs violate the privacy rights of citizens.

A senior administration official sharply criticized Snowden's motives, saying his focus on transparency and individual rights "is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen." The official listed China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador, saying Snowden's failure to criticize those governments shows his "true motive" was to harm U.S. national security.

Senior U.S. officials have said the surveillance programs do not monitor the content of phone conversations, but look for patterns in the metadata, including information on the time, date and numbers called.

U.S. authorities also have said the programs prevented at least 50 terrorist attacks worldwide since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. They have accused Snowden of weakening their ability to foil future plots.

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Comment Sorting
by: budlydoright from: Houston, Texas U.S.A.
June 24, 2013 2:24 PM
So Mr. Obama you now know what it is like to have to have no respect on the world stage. Even tiny Hong Gong flips you off, it's wuses like you that get this country into real wars. Mr. Putin is about to stick more than a finger in you're eye. Get ready to bend over.

by: mday1 from: New Haven
June 24, 2013 10:18 AM
Democracy Now! aired a great show today about Edward Snowden, and interviewed The Guardian reporter who wrote about all these leaks (his name is Glenn Greenwald), as well as a lawyer who represents Wikileaks. Check it out on their website, you can google "democracy now". It's really worth a listen.

by: Regula from: USA
June 23, 2013 7:11 PM
Congratulations Mr. Snowdon for the timely evasion of ridiculous charges by the US government. No, Snowdon is no traitor or coward, the NSA is: a crook, accusing Snowdon of having stolen its stolen goodies.

We all wish you success to arrive in Ecuador safe and hope Ecuador will give you asylum, so the mad chase ends. In this case it is more than clear that Snowdon is a whistle blower and not a traitor under the espionage act. The government had no right to collect the data without consent by the public. Even the FISA court notified the government that it overstepped legal boundaries. The US government tries with every means to justify illegal because authoritarian practices under a rather weak and foul pretense that it foiled terrorist acts. In reality there is very little proof that those acts were in fact stopped by the surveillance rather than by more conventional police work.

The US government would of course have known that Hong Kong and China did not want to catch Snowdon. After all, he gave them a large gift by restoring truth to the US accusations against China for cyberspying - when the US spied into just about every government server in China and Hong Kong. Why is the US government so upset about this rebalancing of democratic equal rights to know?

by: Ciaran Mulcahy from: Dublin, Ireland
June 23, 2013 5:52 PM
If Snowden is flown to the America's, from Moscow, it will probably be on a scheduled Aeroflot aircraft, via Shannon, Ireland.

by: Mike
June 23, 2013 4:15 PM
It is good that Snowden has arrived in Russia. This will force some politicians in the United States to understand that Russia - the enemy of the United States, as rightly said Mitt Romney. Also this is further evidence that both Russia and Communist China, the enemy of the United States and the entire democratic world. They are ready to take any criminal if he did any muck against America. Snowden is a traitor and a coward who tries to escape from justice to authoritarian countries like China and Russia, Cuba and Ecuador.
In Response

by: oldlamb from: guangzhou
June 26, 2013 11:18 AM
I also cite a simple example for you:A,B,C are three persons.B saw A was stelling and undermining C’s property.Because of the conscience,B told C what A was doing.A was angry and urged C arrest B,and present B to A. The questions:Should C thank B? Or should C arrest B and present B to A?What was God’s justice?
In Response

by: Mike
June 24, 2013 4:39 PM
To Brian from Baton Rouge, LA .
Yes, I voted for Romney. And like me - almost half of the country. I completely disagree with you. I'm not going to change my view on what happened with Snowden. In any country Snowden act is a crime. Snowden's attempt to hide from justice in the countries - enemies of the United States only shows that he is a coward and a traitor. In addition, he was stupid - he has not made and can not bring an end to surveillance intelligence on the Web. This is done and always will do all countries of the world, especially Russia and China, which delighted with such naive and knew nothing about the geopolitical realities people like you.
In Response

by: Brian from: Baton Rouge, LA
June 23, 2013 6:56 PM
Mike, Mr. Snowden must make you feel very uncomfortable, since you are ready to denigrate him for doing what a lot of other people feel is a welcome searchlight into the dank sectors of our government. I would sooner have a thousand Snowdens and dispel the justifications for terrorism on all sides than continue the increasing prevalence of secrecy that costs unnecessary tax money that is desperately defending a crumbling Roman empire. The U.S. fears the type of patriot that Snowden represents, and this kind of information-level vulnerability that we find ourselves in the middle of is simply inexcusable. If someone like Snowden can carry it away... if it exists in U.S. custody, then China/Russia//NorthKorea/Iran/YourMom can get it from anyone. Following your logic, the rest of the truth-deprived, empire trodden world is a crime, and the level of analysis you bring to the table is an indicator of how much you actually think about the deteriorating condition of this nation's political climate. You voted for Romney? Ha! I voted for Herman Cain.
In Response

by: Dave from: USA No Liberty Here
June 23, 2013 6:42 PM
No, he's a hero. The DNS are the traitors, spying on everything Americans say online without a warrant. Welcome to 1984 Mike, I hope you enjoy your stay in a police state.
In Response

by: jim from: U.S.
June 23, 2013 6:39 PM
You've stated the problem but what are the viable options. Neither country is going away and like it or not we have to deal with them. Of course if the Business Community wasn't out to make a buck and Congress didn't kowtow we might have some leverage. The truth is in the bigger world of Corporations, Espionage, the intermingling of economies, etc. you name it Snowden is small fry and in a couple of months it will be Snowden who? Just like Bradley Manning of Wikileaks Fame.
In Response

by: VagaBond
June 23, 2013 6:38 PM
Since when do we allow 700 billion dollar trade deficits with enemy's?
In Response

by: Austin Activist from: Austin, TX
June 23, 2013 6:32 PM
Romney lost, by the way, and calling Russia "our No. 1 geopolitical foe" was only one of many mistakes he made. Ecuador is hardly "authoritarian." Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic, and may soon welcome and shelter a man I regard as as much a hero as I do Daniel Ellsberg.

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