By Elise Labott and Matt Smith
The United States is biding its time in its effort to get fugitive leaker Edward Snowden delivered to its custody, hoping that Russia wearies of him and Ecuador decides against granting him asylum, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Snowden, the former National Security Agency computer contractor who exposed details of U.S. surveillance programs, faces espionage charges if shipped back home. He is currently cooling his heels at Moscow's international airport, where he arrived Sunday from Hong Kong.
"Time is our friend," one senior administration official told CNN. "The Russians now just want him gone, and I'm not sure if they care at this point if he goes to a country that might be inclined to send him back."
The State Department revoked Snowden's passport after charges were brought last week. Officials in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, said it needed more information before it could act on a U.S. request to hold him there. WikiLeaks said Snowden flew out of Hong Kong on refugee papers issued by Ecuador, where he has requested asylum, but Ecuador's deputy foreign minister said Wednesday that his country had provided him no documents.