Washington urges Russia to return Snowden to US

The White House said early Monday it expected cooperation from Russia on returning fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to the United States to face espionage charges.

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 and fled for Moscow, despite Washington having requested his arrest and extradition. The US has revoked Snowden's passport and has called for him to be barred from international travel.

In a statement, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said it hoped Moscow would not allow Snowden to leave, "given our intensified cooperation after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters.

She cited a US record of "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," Hayden added.

She 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 is currently staying in a hotel in the Moscow airport and may be heading to Ecuador. The South American country, governed by President Rafael Correa, a leftist critic of the United States, has said the ex-contractor had requested asylum there.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry in India, confirmed the United States revoked Snowden's passport due to "felony arrest warrants" against him.

"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," Psaki said.

On Sunday, the US Justice Department had called Hong Kong's failure to arrest Snowden "troubling" and insisted Washington had fulfilled all the requirements of Washington's extradition treaty with the autonomous Chinese region.

Hong Kong officials have said the documentation supporting the extradition request had been incomplete, but the Justice Department denied anything was missing.

"The request for the fugitive's arrest for purposes of his extradition complied with all of the requirements of the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the US's provisional arrest request," it said.

"In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling."

The statement said senior US officials had been in touch with their Hong Kong counterparts since June 10, when they learned Snowden was in Hong Kong and leaking details of secret surveillance programs to the media.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said that Snowden's efforts to flee prosecution belie his "claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy."

The official said his choice of protectors -- China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador -- and his failure to criticize repression and rights violations in these countries "suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the US, not to advance Internet freedom and free speech."