US calls on Russia to expel NSA whistleblower
White House says Russia has legal basis for expelling Edward Snowden
Earlier today China said the United States’ accusations of Beijing facilitating the departure of Mr Snowden from Hong Kong were “groundless and unacceptable”. The US has asked for help from both enemies and uneasy allies in an effort to catch Mr Snowden.
The White House demanded that he be denied asylum, criticised China for letting him go and urged Russia to “do the right thing” and send him back to America to face espionage charges.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a briefing all parties should accept the Hong Kong government had handled Mr Snowden’s case in accordance with the law.
The White House said Hong Kong’s decision was “a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship”.
Beijing’s main state newspaper praised Mr Snowden today for “tearing off Washington’s sanctimonious mask”.
The overseas edition of China’s People’s Daily, which does not spell out official policy but can reflect the government’s thinking, said Beijing could not accept “this kind of dissatisfaction and opposition” from the United States.
Mr Snowden spent weeks hiding out in Hong Kong following his disclosure of the broad scope of two highly classified counter-terror surveillance programmes to two newspapers.
The programmes collect vast amounts of Americans’ phone records and worldwide online data in the name of national security.
Despite its diplomatic tough talk, the US faces considerable difficulty in securing co-operation on Mr Snowden from nations with whom it has chilly relations.
Mr Snowden has acknowledged revealing details of top-secret surveillance programmes that sweep up millions of phone and Internet records daily. He is a former CIA employee who later was hired as a contractor through Booz Allen to be a computer systems analyst.
In that job, he gained access to documents - many of which he has given to the Guardian and the Washington Post to expose what he contends are privacy violations by an authoritarian government.
Mr Assange and lawyers for WikiLeaks attacked the US for “bullying” foreign nations into refusing asylum to Mr Snowden. WikiLeaks counsel Michael Ratner said Mr Snowden is protected as a whistle-blower by the same international treaties that the US has in the past used to criticise policies in China and African nations.
Ecuador’s president and foreign minister declared that national sovereignty and universal principles of human rights - not US pressure - would govern any decision they might make on granting asylum to Mr Snowden.