Edward Snowden gives countries a chance to thumb nose at US
The US has long emphasized the importance it gives to the human rights of the citizens of the nations it is dealing with. Now, countries aiding Edward Snowden as he tries to evade US justice can turn the tables on the US.
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Perhaps more surprising was Russia and China’s willingness, as some US officials saw it, to cooperate with Snowden’s efforts to evade US justice.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Edward Snowden on the run: villain or hero?
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Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) California, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that mainland China “clearly had a role” in the Hong Kong authorities’ decision to allow Snowden to leave. “I don’t think this was just Hong Kong without Chinese acquiescence,” she said.
US officials insisted Monday that the US had done everything required under international law for foreign authorities to honor the US request for Snowden’s arrest.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday rejected the claims of Hong Kong authorities that the US extradition request for Snowden was incomplete. Instead, he said, authorities of the semiautonomous Chinese territory made “a deliberate choice ... to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant.”
Many international legal experts note that political and diplomatic considerations almost always weigh in deliberations on extradition requests and foreign arrest requests.
And how countries treat such requests also has political and diplomatic ramifications, as Secretary Kerry noted in his remarks Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi with India’s foreign minister, Kerry said “there would be, without any question, some effect and impact on the relationship [with China or Russia] and consequences” if either or both countries are found to have aided Snowden in evading US authorities.
The US remained in dialogue with Russian officials about Snowden on Monday, Kerry said.
Mr. Carney was more blunt, saying the decision to allow Snowden to depart Hong Kong “unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship.” He said, “The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,” adding, “We think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback.”
Concerning Russia, Carney noted the “intensified cooperation with Russia after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters, including returning numerous high-level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government.” Given that recent cooperation, he said, “We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options available to [it] to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States.”
In comments made after Carney spoke with journalists, Mr. Obama said Monday that the US is "following all the appropriate legal channels" to bring Snowden back to the US from Russia. US officials, he said, are working with a list of other unspecified countries to press for international application of "the rule of law" in the Snowden case.
Snowden took an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong to Moscow – something international experts say is quite unlikely to have occurred without the knowledge of Russian authorities.
Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin had been evasive when questioned recently about what Russia would do if Snowden sought transit through or even refuge in Russia.
But Russian officials – including Mr. Putin, who has come under growing criticism for perceived authoritarian tendencies from various US and international sources – may have sensed a certain satisfaction in an occasion to tweak the US for what organizations like WikiLeaks consider the persecution of a heroic whistle-blower.
And then there is China.
Chinese leaders were not thrilled last year when then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took the side of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng during a visit to Beijing. The US believes "that all governments have to answer our citizens' aspirations for dignity and the rule of law and that no nation can or should deny those rights," Ms. Clinton told her Chinese counterparts.
Mr. Chen was later allowed to leave China for study in the US.
Now might it be that China, and the other countries apparently ready to step up and assist Snowden, are seizing the opportunity for a satisfying tit for tat?