US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday of consequences to ties with Moscow and Beijing over an intelligence leaker's flight from Hong Kong to Russia, saying it was "deeply troubling" if requests for his extradition had been ignored.
Speaking on a visit to New Delhi, Kerry insisted that Edward Snowden, who is the target of an American arrest warrant after he leaked details of massive US cyber-espionage programmes, had betrayed his country and should have to face the consequences.
Snowden is expected to fly out of Moscow later Monday to seek asylum in Ecuador after being allowed to board a flight in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong on Sunday which took him to the Russian capital.
Asked about the diplomatic consequences of Snowden's departure, Kerry said it would be "very disappointing" if it were found that he was "wilfully allowed to board an aircraft".
"As a result there would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences," said the top US diplomat.
"With respect to the China, Russia relationship and where this puts us, it would be deeply troubling obviously if they have adequate notice and, not withstanding that, they made a decision wilfully to ignore that and not live by the standards of the law," Kerry added.
After issuing the arrest warrant against Snowden, the US State Department revoked the former intelligence operative's passport and asked other countries to prevent him from travelling.
He was however still able to board an Aeroflot flight which landed in Moscow on Sunday.
Questioned in particular about Russia's role in Snowden's flight, Kerry said: "I would urge them (Russia) to live by the standards of the law because that's in the interests of everybody.
"In the last two years we have transferred seven prisoners to Russia that they wanted so I think reciprocity and the enforcement of the law is pretty important."
Kerry also defended the decision to seek Snowden's arrest, saying he had betrayed his country.
"He is an indicted individual, indicted on three felony counts," said Kerry.
"Evidently he places himself above the law having betrayed his country with respect of the violation of his oath and I think there are very serious implications in that."