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China is back on the White House’s naughty list after letting Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong, and Russia has a chance to get on the nice list.
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his briefing Monday. “This 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 U.S.-China relationship,” he added.
He also called on Russia to send Snowden to the United States to face charges for leaking classified information, noting recent cooperation between the two countries after the Boston Marathon bombings and in other law enforcement cases.
“We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States,” he said.
Carney also made the sharpest personal comments to date from the White House about Snowden himself — while making backhanded slams on China, Russia and other countries.
“Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen — China, Russia, Ecuador, as we’ve seen,” Carney said. “His failures to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the United States, not to advance Internet freedom and free speech.”
Carney toward the end of the briefing was challenged by a Russian journalist who called Snowden a “classic political dissident” akin to dissidents in the Soviet era that the United States supported.
Carney dismissed the comparison.
Later on Monday, President Barack Obama was asked at an unrelated event whether he believed the Russian government would expel Snowden or otherwise aid the U.S. in capturing him.
“What we know is, is that we’re following all of the appropriate legal channels, and working with various other countries to make sure that rule of law is observed,” Obama said. “And beyond that, I’ll refer to the Justice Department that has been actively involved in the case.”