White House: Snowden still in Russia
“We have known where he is and believe we know where he is now,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during a Monday afternoon briefing. “It is our assumption that he is in Russia.”
“I’m not going to get into specifics, but it is our understanding that he is still in Russia,” Carney added later in the briefing. "We have asked the Russians to look at all the options and expel Snowden to the US,” he said.
Snowden, a 30-year-old American man, fled the US last month to meet with reporters with The Guardian in Honk Kong. There he supplied journalists with National Security Agency documents exposing vast surveillance efforts operated by the United States government.
On late Friday, Snowden was reported to be in Moscow, Russia, possibly en route to a final destination in Latin America or elsewhere. An indictment against him was unsealed in the US earlier that day.
Representatives with WikiLeaks said early Monday that Snowden
submitted applications for asylum with Ecuador, Iceland and
perhaps other locales. Carney, however, said the White House has
been in discussions with “the diplomatic and law enforcement
channels in countries where Mr. Snowden might transit.”
Later in the day, President Barack Obama said the US is following
all appropriate legal channels in an attempt to extradite Snowden
back to America, and was working with other countries to ensure
the rule of law is observed.
“We are aware of where Mr. Snowden is,” WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said in a conference call shortly before the White House briefing. “He is in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration we cannot go into further detail at this time.”
“Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time,” Assange added.
Snowden was originally rumored to be heading to Cuba on Monday on the way to Ecuador, but his whereabouts remain publically unknown.
“We believe we know where he is and we’re having appropriate conversations about that,” Carney told reporters.
“If his passion here is for press freedom and freedom of the Internet and the like, than he has chosen unlikely protectors,” he said.
Carney went on to condemn authorities in Honk Kong and mainland China and said the decision to allow Snowden to escape amid an US-authored extradition order “was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant.”
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Honk Kong immigration official," Carney continued, adding that the action will have a “negative impact on US/China relations.”
According to Assange, President Barack Obama’s actions so far, however, have hindered the reputation of the US.
“The US government is taking on a generation — a young generation of people who find the mass violation of the right of privacy and open process unacceptable,” said Assange. “By taking on a generation, the Obama administration can only lose. Pursuing Edward Snowden and pursuing Bradley Manning is not the way to fix the weaknesses of laws and process in the United States. The only ways to fix these are to fix the policies. And to stop spying on the world [and] to eradicate secret law.”
“The charging of Edward Snowden is not a matter of justice. It is an attempt to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for its rights with regards to the truth,” Assange added.
An indictment against Snowden was unsealed on Friday revealing charges of espionage and other counts more than two weeks after The Guardian first began leaking classified documents attributed to him.