White House 'disappointed' over Russia granting asylum to Snowden

Aug. 1, 2013 at 2:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The United States is "extremely disappointed" that Russia granted temporary asylum to U.S. secrets leaker Edward Snowden, the White House said Thursday.

"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step, despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and in private to have Mr. Snowden expelled to the United States to face the charges against him," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a media briefing.

Snowden is not a whistle-blower, Carney said, but is accused of "leaking classified information and has been charged with three felony counts and he should be returned to the United States as soon as possible."

"This move by the Russian government undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation," Carney said, "cooperation that has recently been on the upswing since the Boston Marathon bombings."

Snowden who leaked information about the National Security Agency's huge monitoring program, was granted temporary asylum Thursday, allowing him to stay for as long as a year in Russia.

He left the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport -- where he has been holed up since late June -- and is at an undisclosed location, his attorney said.

Carney said the White House has been in contact with Russian authorities, expressing its disappointment and "making the case clearly that there is absolute legal justification for Mr. Snowden to be returned to the United States, where he is under indictment on three charges, felony charges, for leaking classified information."

Carney said the decision wasn't a "positive development" concerning President Obama's planned trip visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a Group of 20 summit next month.

"You know, we are evaluating the utility of a summit, in light of this and other issues, but I have no announcement today on that," Carney said.

Asked whether officials considered Russia's actions as an attempt to embarrass the United States, Carney said, "In terms of motivations for a decision like this, you know, I would leave Russian authorities to describe them."

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