The U.S. ambassador in Moscow this week demanded that Russia surrender fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden, whose attorney said Tuesday that his client might file a lawsuit if Russia denies his request for political asylum.
“Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to the United States to face the felony charges against him,” Ambassador Michael McFaul said in a Twitter message Monday.
U.S. prosecutors last month charged Mr. Snowden with espionage and theft of government property, after the computer specialist disclosed secrets about U.S. spying by the National Security Agency.
Mr. Snowden on Tuesday marked one month of hiding out in a Moscow airport and more than two months on the run from U.S. authorities, after having first fled to Hong Kong in late May.
His Russian attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters that Mr. Snowden could file a lawsuit if the Kremlin rejects his request for asylum.
“He intends to do so,” Mr. Kucherena told Russia’s RT television network.
The lawyer said he has explained Mr. Snowden’s options for challenging a negative decision from Russia’s Federal Migration Service. The Kremlin on Tuesday told reporters that no decision has been made on his request.
Three weeks after Egyptians ousted the Islamist-led government, the U.S. ambassador remains a pariah among many Egyptians, while the military chief who overthrew the regime is viewed as a hero in Israel.
Ambassador Anne Patterson, a career foreign service officer, was pilloried by countless protesters among millions who demanded an end to a government led by Islamic fundamentalists of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ex-President Mohammed Morsi remains in custody, after the military overthrew his government on July 3. Protesters accused Mr. Morsi of failing to rescue a crumbling economy and imposing strict Islamist laws.
Mrs. Patterson, echoing White House policy, repeatedly urged Egyptians to cease their protests last month against Mr. Morsi, who more than a year ago won an election that the U.S. and other Western nations considered free and fair.
Last week, the Egyptian press reported that Mrs. Patterson demanded the military chief and coup leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, release all Muslim Brotherhood prisoners detained after the overthrow of Mr. Morsi.
The New York-based Gatestone Institute this week said many Egyptians who opposed Mr. Morsi consider Mrs. Patterson a “Muslim Brotherhood lackey.”
The Obama administration has defended the ambassador as an “excellent” diplomat.
“She’s doing a great job,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said this month.
While the U.S. has criticized the ouster of Mr. Morsi, Israel has praised Gen. al-Sissi for removing a regime perceived as a growing threat to the Jewish state.
Yaakov Amitai, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, called Gen. al-Sissi a hero, according to Egyptian news reports.
Gen. al-Sissi “is not only a national hero for Egypt but also for all Jews in Israel and around the globe,” he told Ayman Abu-Hadid, agriculture minister in the interim government installed by the military.
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at email@example.com or @EmbassyRow.