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White House Blasts Snowden 'Protectors'

June 24, 2013


The U.S. government has criticized former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden’s choices of countries to protect him.

President Barack Obama said on June 24 that the United States was using all legal channels to try and apprehend the leaker of classified eavesdropping practices and added that Washington is "working with various other countries to make sure that the rule of law is observed."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Snowden’s choices of countries belied his claim that he is a defender of transparency, freedom of the press, and individuals' rights.

Carney also maintained that Hong Kong's decision to allow Snowden to leave had harmed efforts to build trust in U.S.-Chinese relations.

"The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust, as you know, and we think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback," he said. "If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem, and that is a point we are making to them very directly."

Carney refused to speculate on the implications of any failure by Russia to hand over Snowden, who was last believed to be in a transit area at Moscow airport.

The White House spokesman said that Washington had been in touch with countries through which Snowden might transit, noting that he was a fugitive from felony charges in the United States.

Snowden has asked for asylum in Ecuador and Quito has said it is considering the request.

On a visit to Hanoi on June 24, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters that "the man who intended to expose acts that affect the fundamental liberties of all people now finds himself persecuted by those very people who should offer an explanation to the governments and the citizens of the world regarding the claims made by Mr. Snowden."

On the same day, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that Snowden had received refugee papers from the Ecuadoran government to secure him safe passage as he fled Hong Kong over the weekend.

Assange spoke to reporters from inside the Ecuadoran Embassy in London where he himself has been himself hiding from arrest for more than a year.

Snowden did not travel on a flight from Moscow to Havana on June 24 despite holding a ticket from Aeroflot for the journey.

The U.S. government has asked Russia to expel Snowden to the United States but Moscow says it has no reason to detain the former National Security Agency contractor.

On June 23, Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong, where he had been in hiding since leaking information about secret U.S. government surveillance programs.

Last week, U.S. authorities charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and the willful communication of classified intelligence information to an unauthorized person.

Each of the three charges carries a maximum 10-year prison penalty following a conviction.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/snowden-united-states-slams-protectors/25026737.html

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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