Kerry said the United States has extradited seven Russian prisoners in the past two years, and noted: “Reciprocity is pretty important.”
“It would be very disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane,” said Kerry, who was traveling in New Delhi. “There would be without any doubt . . . consequences.”
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said
Noting that law enforcement agencies in the two countries have worked closely together in the wake of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, “we expect the Russian Government to look at all options available” for returnign Snowden to U.S. jurisdiction.
Kerry said “all appropriate countries” in Latin America had been notified with respect to Snowden’s legal status. “That is the appropriate step to take, to put them on notice that he is an indicted individual, three felony counts, wanted by the legal process of the United States.”
Snowden, who leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs, has been charged with espionage in the United States. He flew into Moscow from Hong Kong Sunday with the help of the WikiLeaks organization and stayed out of sight overnight, apparently hidden away either in a VIP room or a small hotel.
The Associated Press reported that he was expected to fly to Havana and then to continue on to Ecuador, perhaps by way of Venezuela.
The Aeroflot flight to Havana usually crosses U.S. air space, but a check of recent flights showed the route can vary, apparently with the weather, and sometimes steers well clear of the United States.
Hrafnsson said he established contact with Snowden last week while the American was in Hong Kong. Arrangements were made for Harrison to meet Snowden in Hong Kong and accompany him out. Harrison was still with Snowden in Moscow, Hrafnsson said.
“The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr. Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person,” said Baltasar Garzón, legal director of WikiLeaks and attorney for Julian Assange, the group’s founder, who has spent the past year holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. “What is being done to Mr. Snowden and to Mr. Julian Assange — for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest — is an assault against the people.”
A State Department spokeswoman said privacy laws prevented her from commenting specifically on the status of Snowden’s passport. But U.S. officials speaking anonymously said his passport had been revoked before he left Hong Kong.
“As is routine and consistent with U.S. regulations, persons with felony arrest warrants are subject to having their passport revoked,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “. . . Persons wanted on felony charges, such as Mr. Snowden, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”
But the Interfax news agency, quoting a Russian law enforcement source, said Snowden could continue on his journey from Moscow without a U.S. passport if the country where he was seeking asylum provided him with travel documents. Those documents could include affirmation of refugee status, Interfax reported, or even a passport from the destination country.
“We are disappointed by the decision of the authorities in Hong Kong to permit Mr. Snowden to flee despite the legally valid U.S. request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the U.S.-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement,” Hayden said. “We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations.”
She added: “These are countries that violate press freedoms every day. And yet [Snowden]’s seeking political asylum in those very countries where . . . if he were to pull a Snowden in these countries, they’d jail him immediately.”
The heated rhetoric comes as the Obama administration is making a strong effort to build better ties with both China and Russia, with Kerry investing considerable effort in developing a personal relationship with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that might help him in tackling thorny issues such as how to respond to the ongoing civil war in Syria.
“Our hope is that we can work with the Russians very closely” on Syria, Kerry said Saturday in Qatar, before Snowden fled Hong Kong on a Russian flight. “I take at face value President Putin’s and Foreign Minister Lavrov’s willingness to try to work with us in good faith.”
Hong Kong’s government said that the U.S. request for a warrant for Snowden’s arrest “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law” and that it had asked for “additional information.”
“As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong,” the statement said.
A senior Justice Department official disputed that claim. “The request met the requirements of the agreement,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They came back to us late Friday with additional questions, and we were in the process of responding. Obviously, this raises concerns for us, and we will continue to discuss this with the authorities there.”
Assange has been unable to leave the Ecuadoran Embassy in London because Britain has refused to provide him safe passage while he is sought by Sweden for questioning about sexual-assault allegations.
U.S. relations with Ecuador
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has emerged as one of the most vehement critics of U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere. In 2011, his administration expelled the American ambassador in Quito to protest a cable released by WikiLeaks that alleged the Ecuadoran police force was rife with corruption.
The extradition treaty between the United States and Ecuador, signed in 1872, states that offenses of “a political character” do not warrant extradition — much like the United States’ agreement with Hong Kong.
It’s unclear whether the Chinese leadership in Beijing had any role in Hong Kong’s decision to let Snowden leave. Hong Kong is a semiautonomous region that prides itself on its independent legal system, but the government ultimately answers to the mainland, whose influence can be difficult to discern. Residents in Hong Kong are deeply resistant to any overt sign of interference from the Communist Party.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said in a statement Sunday that it had seen the reports of Snowden’s departure and would continue to pay attention to developments but did not have “specific details.” The government added that it was “deeply concerned” about reports of U.S. government cyberattacks on China, saying they “proved that China is a victim of cyberattacks.”
Faiola reported from London and DeYoung reported from New Delhi. Jia Lynn Yang in Hong Kong, Juan Forero in Bogota, Colombia, Ernesto Londoño in Kabul, Lenny Bernstein, Sari Horwitz and David Nakamura in Washington, and Liu Liu in Beijing contributed to this report.
Thank you,, TiA