- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2013

The protectors that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has potentially chosen — and his failure to criticize those countries — suggests his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the U.S. and not to advance Internet freedom and free speech, a senior Obama administration official said.

“Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador,” the official said.

Mr. Snowden, a 30-year-old who had top-secret clearance and disclosed the government’s collection of phone records and a program that tracks some foreigners’ Internet activity, revealed his plans through a statement from WikiLeaks — founded by leaker Julian Assange — after reports he departed Hong Kong bound for Moscow and then a new haven from American authorities seeking his arrest.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino confirmed on Twitter that his government had received an asylum request from Mr. Snowden, who landed in Moscow on Sunday and planned to travel to South America through Cuba, The Associated Press reported, citing Russian news agencies.

The National Security Council is “very disappointed” by the decision of authorities in Hong Kong and has said such behavior is “detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations,” NSC spokeswoman Caitlen Hayden said.

U.S. authorities asked Hong Kong on Friday to extradite Mr. Snowden, but officials there said the request did not comply with their laws.

“Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters — including returning numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government — we expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged,” Ms. Hayden said.

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