WASHINGTON, June 28 (RAPSI) - The White House believes Russia has ample basis to turn National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden over to the United States, RIA Novosti reported on Thursday, citing Barack Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
"We believe Mr. Snowden has committed a crime; that the release of unauthorized classified information like this is harmful to national security, and therefore it's important for nations to cooperate with us to bring him to justice," Rhodes said.
He said Snowden had not only committed a crime in the United States but is also traveling without a passport, since his passport was revoked by the US authorities.
"So there's ample basis for Russia to expel him, and for Russia and other countries to cooperate with us in bringing him to justice," he said while chairing a news briefing in Dakar, Senegal. The text was distributed by the White House press office.
In his words, Washington was "seriously disappointed in what the authorities did in Hong Kong in letting Mr. Snowden go." At present, he is reportedly holed up in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport waiting for the Ecuadorean government to respond to his request for asylum.
Snowden has dominated international headlines this month after claiming responsibility for leaking top-secret documents to The Guardian, detailing the National Security Agency's (NSA) capacity to access the systems of major US companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple. Google, Facebook, and Apple have all denied providing direct or backdoor access to their servers.
After the initial leak, Snowden went on to expose various other types of intelligence, including claims to The Guardian that the NSA had intercepted communications from Medvedev's delegation during the 2009 G20 summit in London, as well as claims during an interview with the South China Morning Post that the United States had been hacking into Chinese computers for years.
On June 14, the US authorities filed a criminal complaint advancing three charges, each carrying a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. He has been charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and the willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person, according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors.