US disappointed at Snowden’s asylum in Russia

    By IANS,

    Washington: The White House has expressed “extreme disappointment” at Russia’s grant of temporary asylum to fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

    Washington said it was evaluating a scheduled presidential summit in September, Xinhua reported.

    “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 at a daily press briefing.

    “This move by the Russian government undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation, cooperation that has recently been on the upswing since the Boston Marathon bombings,” he added.

    Snowden, who was marooned at the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival there June 23, left Thursday for an undisclosed place in Russia after being granted temporary asylum for one year by the Russian Federal Migrant Service.

    The 30-year-old former American spy agency contractor was revoked of his passport and charged with espionage, theft and unauthorised communication of national defence and intelligence information, following his disclosure in June of massive secret phone and internet surveillance programmes of the US National Security Agency.

    “Mr. Snowden is not a whistleblower,” Carney said.

    “He 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, where he will be accorded full due process and protections.”

    US Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter days ago to Russian authorities, promising the United States will not seek death penalty for Snowden, and he will not be tortured either.

    A summit between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was being planned when Obama travels to Russia in September for the Group of 20 meeting in St. Petersburg.

    “I don’t have a scheduling announcement for you today, but obviously this is not a positive development,” Carney said.

    “And we have a wide range of interests with the Russians, and we are evaluating the utility of a summit.”