White House 'extremely disappointed' with Russia
The United States is "extremely disappointed" in Russia's decision to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the White House said today.
In its first public response to Russia's move in defiance of US wishes, the Obama administration said it was not a positive development for US-Russia relations and said that it undermined Russia's record of law enforcement cooperation with the US.
The White House added that it is re-evaluating whether President Barack Obama should attend an upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and private that Snowden be expelled and returned to the United States," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Carney said that Moscow had given the US no advance notice before announcing its decision to grant Snowden asylum for one year.
Snowden left the transit zone of a Moscow airport and officially entered Russia after authorities granted him asylum, his lawyer said. The US has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage over his leaks that revealed wide US electronic surveillance programs, but Putin dismissed the request.
Some US lawmakers have reacted angrily, insisting there be serious repercussions for Putin's decision to snub the Obama administration and that the US must re-evaluate its approach to Moscow in light of the decision.
Even before Russia's move today, some lawmakers were calling for the US to boycott next year's Winter Olympics scheduled for Sochi, Russia.
"Russia's action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States. It is a slap in the face of all Americans," said Sen. John McCain, a leading Republican. "Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin's Russia."
Carney would not commit that the US will take any specific steps in retribution, pointing only to the fact that Obama is reconsidering the summit with Putin, planned for the fall in Moscow. But he added that the US has a complicated, wide-ranging relationship with Russia, suggesting the US was reluctant to allow relations to deteriorate too substantially over the American fugitive's status.
"There is no question that there are a range of issues, setting aside the disposition of Snowden, on which we are currently in disagreement with Russia," he said.