Refusing to buy the argument that former CIA contractor Edward Snowden is a political dissident, the U.S. has demanded that the American national wanted on felony charges be returned.
The White House denied reports that the U.S. has threatened or is considering any physical threat to Snowden (29), who is currently in Russia and has sought asylum in Ecuador, said to be his final destination from Moscow.
“Of course not,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, told reporters when asked about allegations from the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in this regard.
“The distinctions [between a political dissident and Snowden], are pretty evident if you look at them clearly,” Mr. Carney said when a Russian journalist during the daily White House news conference claimed that the U.S. has been supporting people like Mr. Snowden since the Soviet days.
“We very clearly believe that Snowden ought to be returned to the United States to face the charges that have been set against him through an open and clear legal process that we have in this country,” he said.
Mr. Carney also challenged Mr. Snowden’s assertion that he took such decision in support of freedom and transparency. He said such claims were belied by the ‘protectors’ he had chosen: China, Russia, Ecuador.
“His failure to criticise 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,” the White House Press Secretary said.
Noting that the unauthorised disclosure of classified information and the kind of information that has already been disclosed has an enormous negative impact, Mr. Carney said the Obama Administration is currently doing damage assessment.
President Barack Obama, he said, has been updated by his national security staff continually on developments.
Keywords: Edward Snowden, NSA surveillance, PRISM, Obama administration, US foreign policy, US national security, WikiLeaks, NSA whistleblower, electronic snooping, US-Russia spat, Snowden extradition, Ecuador asylum