, WASHINGTON, Jun 24 – The White House said early on Monday it expected cooperation from Russia on returning fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to the United States to face espionage charges.
Snowden, a 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, after he quit his job with the National Security Agency and fled to Hong Kong with a cache of secret documents.
On Sunday, Snowden left Hong Kong and fled for Moscow, despite Washington having requested his arrest and extradition. The US has revoked Snowden’s passport and has called for him to be barred from international travel.
In a statement, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said it hoped Moscow would not allow Snowden to leave, “given our intensified cooperation after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters.
She cited a US record of “returning numerous high-level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government.”
“We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr Snowden back to the US to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged,” Hayden added.
She also expressed disappointment with Hong Kong for allowing Snowden to leave “despite the legally valid US request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement.
Persons wanted on felony charges, such as Mr Snowden, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States, Psaki said.
“We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behaviour is detrimental to US-Hong Kong and US-China bilateral relations,” she said.
Snowden is currently staying in a hotel in the Moscow airport and may be heading to Ecuador. The South American country, governed by President Rafael Correa, a leftist critic of the United States, has said the ex-contractor had requested asylum there.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, travelling with Secretary of State John Kerry in India, confirmed the United States revoked Snowden’s passport due to “felony arrest warrants” against him.
“Persons wanted on felony charges, such as Mr Snowden, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States,” Psaki said.