By Jill Dougherty
Obama administration officials, including the head of the FBI, have been burning up the phone lines to Moscow, urging the government of President Vladimir Putin to arrest Edward Snowden and send him to the United States to face espionage charges.
The last thing they want is a repeat of what happened in Hong Kong, when the admitted leaker of national security surveillance programs was able to fly to Moscow on Sunday.
Some critics call the episode a blunder by the administration.
CNN's Elise Labott interviewed Secretary of State John Kerry Monday in India about U.S. efforts to find Edward Snowden after he fled Hong Kong. She asked him whether China's failure to stop him from fleeing was payback after Snowden leaked information about U.S. surveillance activities on China.
The United States has been waging a multi-country diplomatic effort to ensure Edward Snowden is returned to American authorities to face espionage charges, Secretary of State John Kerry asserted in an interview with CNN Monday.
Snowden, who admittedly leaked top secret information about government surveillance programs, left Hong Kong on Sunday and has thus far avoided U.S. extradition efforts. The United States has revoked his passport and encouraged countries to deny him asylum.
Asked how a man wanted on espionage charges was able to travel freely from Hong Kong to Russia, Kerry defended the U.S. government's role in trying to apprehend Snowden. He noted Snowden's passport was revoked as soon as the government's complaint against him was unsealed last week – before Snowden departed Hong Kong.
"We don't know what authorities allowed him to leave under those circumstances," Kerry told CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott. "We obviously have to find out from the Chinese what happened. We hope that the Russians will recognize the request of the United States."
By Peter Shadbolt
It was clear from the statement from the National Security Council (NSC) on Monday that the United States is deeply annoyed with Hong Kong.
Couched in diplomatic language, the statement spelled out Washington's position: Hong Kong dropped the ball on Edward Snowden and the U.S. wants Russia to pick it up.
"We are disappointed by the decision of the authorities in Hong Kong to permit Mr. Snowden to flee despite the legally valid U.S. request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the U.S.-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement," said NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in a statement.
"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 U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations."