WASHINGTON - The U.S. assumes National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden remains in Russia, and officials are working with Moscow in hopes he will be expelled and returned to America to face criminal charges, President Barack Obama's spokesman said Monday. The White House said a decision by Hong Kong not to detain Snowden has "unquestionably" hurt relations between the United States and China.
Snowden left Hong Kong and flew to Moscow but then apparently did not board a plane bound for Cuba, as had been expected, and his whereabouts were a mystery. The founder of the WikiLeaks secret-spilling organization, Julian Assange, said he wouldn't go into details about where Snowden was but said he was safe.
Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador, Iceland and possibly other countries, Assange said.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said of the Russians that the U.S. was "expecting them to look at the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged."
"The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust," he added. "And we think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem. And that is a point we are making to them very directly."