"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 Snowden expelled to the US to face the charges against him," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Snowden, an ex-CIA contractor, has leaked National Security Agency's secret telephone and Internet surveillance programme. Carney's comments were the first reaction from the Obama Administration after the Russian Federal Migration Service confirmed publicly that they have issued Snowden temporary asylum for one year and allowed him to leave the airport.
The Russian government did not inform the US about its decision. Snowden is not a whistleblower, Carney insisted, asserting that he is accused of leaking classified information and has been charged with three felony counts. "He should be returned to the US as soon as possible where he will be accorded full due process and protections," he said.
"This move by the Russian government undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation that has recently been on the upswing since the Boston Marathon bombings," he said, reflecting the deep disappointment in the Obama Administration on the Russian decision in this regard. Expressing US' "extreme disappointment" with this decision, Carney said despite all this, the US will be in contact with Russian authorities.
"He's not a dissident. He's not a whistleblower. He's been charged with a crime. He will be accorded upon return to the US all of the rights and privileges provided to defendants in this country under our system of justice" Carney said. "We have made that view clear both publicly and privately in our discussions with the Russian government," he said.
He added that Obama is scheduled to travel to Russia for G-20 Summit. "I don't have a scheduling announcement for you today, But obviously this is not a positive development. We have a wide range of interests with the Russians, and we are evaluating the utility of a summit," he said in response to a question. "We are evaluating the utility of a summit in light of this and other issues, but I have no announcement today on that," he added.
Earlier, Republican Senator John McCain termed Russia's move as a "deliberate attempt to embarrass" the US. "We see this as an unfortunate development, and we are extremely disappointed by it," Carney said when asked about the statement made by McCain.
Our relationship with Russia, as is the case with other important countries around the world, is based in realism, Carney said. "It is a simple fact that the so-called reset in our relations with Russia produced positive benefits for American national security and for the American people," he said.
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