NEW DELHI – Washington would not look favorably if it turns out that China and Russia purposely chose to ignore American desires to apprehend National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on three felony counts, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said on a three-day visit to India.
Terming Snowden an indicted felon, Kerry said all appropriate countries have been notified of his status.
“It would be very disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane” from Hong Kong to Moscow, Kerry said at a news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, adding that he “would be deeply troubled” if Russia and China knew of Snowden’s plans, “and there would be, without any question, some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.”
“I’d urge them to live within the law,” Kerry added. “It’s in the interest of everyone.”
Snowden, 30, an American citizen who has embarrassed the Obama administration by exposing the breadth of U.S. surveillance programs, has eluded U.S. efforts to arrest him. Considered a traitor by some and a folk hero by others, Snowden has kept a step ahead of U.S. authorities who have charged him with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property. The latest speculation is that the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor is headed for Ecuador by way of Cuba and Venezuela, although he appeared to have missed a flight to Havana that he had been expected to take.
Kerry took a swipe at the civil liberties of countries Snowden has chosen to work with in eluding the U.S. “I wonder if Snowden chose Russia or China for assistance because they are such bastions of Internet freedom,” he said.
Times staff writer Paul Richter in Washington contributed to this report.