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US tells Russia to give Snowden back as whistleblower set to leave Moscow

The former National Security Agency employee is reported to be heading for the Cuban capital of Havana before seeking asylum in Ecuador.

A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden in Hong Kong yesterday
A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden in Hong Kong yesterday
Image: Vincent Yu/AP/Press Association Images

THE WHITE HOUSE has said it expects cooperation from Russia on returning fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden back to the United States to face espionage charges.

“Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters — including returning numerous high-level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government — we expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the US to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged,” said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.

Hayden also expressed disappointment with Hong Kong for allowing Snowden to leave “despite the legally valid US request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement.

“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 US-Hong Kong and US-China bilateral relations,” she said.

Snowden, a 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, after he quit his job with the National Security Agency and fled to Hong Kong with a cache of secret documents.

On Sunday, Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow, despite Washington having requested his arrest and extradition. He spent the night at a hotel near Sheremetyevo Airport where he was met by the Ecuadorean ambassador to Russia.

Hong Kong officials said the documentation supporting the extradition request had been incomplete.

Reports suggest Snowden will take an early afternoon flight out of Moscow bound for the Cuban capital Havana. He will then seek asylum in Ecuador.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

Read: Edward Snowden to follow Julian Assange to Ecuadoran shelter?

Read: US whistleblower Snowden charged with espionage for leaking secret documents

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