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23 Jun, 2013 22:04

US asks Moscow to 'look at all options available' to expel Snowden

US asks Moscow to 'look at all options available' to expel Snowden

Washington says it expects the Russian government to 'look at all options available' to expel Edward Snowden to the US to face espionage charges. That's after the White House expressed 'disappointment' China and Hong Kong didn't detain the NSA leaker.

"We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged,"  the White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden stressed.

However, a senior Russian lawmaker stressed that Washington should not expect Moscow to extradite Snowden.

"Ties are in a rather complicated phase and when ties are in such a phase, when one country undertakes hostile action against another, why should the United States expect restraint and understanding from Russia?" Aleksey Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, pointed out to Reuters.

Earlier, the US strongly objected to the authorities in Hong Kong and China at the decision to let Snowden flee through their territories.

The US Justice Department has been in “continual contact” with Hong Kong authorities since the prominent whistleblower Edward Snowden first revealed his identity and whereabouts on June 10, Reuters reports.

RT’s Gayane Chichakyan indicated that in its official statement, Hong Kong government centers on the revelations rather than on the leaker.

“Hong Kong says they want more information about the hacking of the systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies that was part of the Snowden’s revelations. So, in this official statement we see how Hong Kong shifts the focus from the messenger, Edward Snowden, to the message.”

She also said the US authorities are doing everything possible not to focus on the revelations, which “show that the US has lied and has been doing the same as they accuse China of doing. Policy makers in the US are doing everything to shift the attention away from the revelations by focusing on Snowden himself, or even by attacking other countries like Russia...”

US-Hong Kong communications on Snowden (via Reuters)

June 5: First batch of leaks revealed by the Guardian.
June 9: Edward Snowden steps forward as the source of the leaks
June 10: US DOJ starts communicating with Hong Kong counterparts.
June 14: US authorities charge Snowden under the Espionage Act and issue a warrant for his arrest.
June 15: US requests Hong Kong to provisionally arrest Snowden.
June 17: Hong Kong authorities respond that the matter was under review.
June 19: US Attorney General Eric Holder calls Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, stressing the importance of the case.
June 21: Hong Kong asks for more information about the charges and evidence in the case.
June 23: Hong Kong authorities notify the US that Snowden has left the country.

In Sunday’s press release, announcing that Snowden has left Hong Kong, the island government acknowledged that the US was aware of discrepancies. 

“Snowden left Hong Kong …on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel… [as there was] no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving,” the release read.

Earlier the US State Department issued a statement warning the countries of the ‘Western Hemisphere” about reports that Edward Snowden might be looking refuge in the region and urging them to not let the whistleblower in and assist with returning him to the US.

The announcement by the Justice Department came as US authorities revoked Snowden’s passport, according to several US officials who spoke with the media on condition of anonymity.

"As is routine and consistent with US regulations, persons with felony arrest warrants are subject to having their passport revoked," Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman said in a statement. "Such a revocation does not affect citizenship status."

On Sunday, WikiLeaks which is allegedly helping Snowden escape the American justice system tweeted
Snowden left Hong Kong and is "bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum."

Ecuador is currently considering Snowden's bid for asylum.

En route to his final destination, whistleblower Edward Snowden made a stopover at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Due to the absence of a Russian visa, he allegedly stayed overnight in a hotel in the airport's transit zone. On Monday, he was expected to fly to Cuba before changing planes to Ecuador. 

However, Snowden has not been seen aboard the plane to Havana, although two seats had been checked in under his name, RT's Egor Piskunov reported. The plane departed from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

Snowden has been charged by the US authorities with theft of federal government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person. The last two charges fall under the US Espionage Act.