WASHINGTON, August 12 (Itar-Tass) - The U.S. authorities have their attention focused on National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden not his father Lon who is planning to go to Russia, U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said on Monday, August 12.
She confirmed that the Obama administration continued to insist on Edward Snowden’s return to the United States for trial and assured the audience that it would be a fair trial.
Harf said earlier this month that the Russian authorities’ decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden was “an extremely disappointing step.”
She said the U.S. authorities “continue to press with the Russian Government that Mr. Snowden needs to be returned to the United States where he will face a free and fair trial.”
Harf stressed that “this move by the Russian Government undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation, particularly since the Boston Marathon bombings. So we will continue to make that point with the Russian Government at all points in this process.”
She said “Mr. Snowden is wanted on very serious charges and that he needs to be returned to the United States to face those charges.”
The U.S. administration regretted Russia’s “disappointing decision” to grant Snowden temporary asylum and said it was also “a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship.”
U.S. Deputy National Security Affairs Ben Rhodes said the decision to give temporary asylum to Snowden had further complicated the already complex relations between the two countries.
Edward Snowden arrived at Sheremetyevo Airport from Hong Kong on June 23 and was staying in its transition zone until the beginning of August. He applied for temporary asylum in Russia.
Earlier he had passed to the press information about mass electronic surveillance by the U.S. authorities under the PRISM programme and claimed that American security services watched and recorded people’s actions and conversations even if they did nothing wrong.
He said security services were gathering information primarily about the users of popular search servers and social networks.
On August 1, Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year. He left the airport together with WikiLeaks staffer and legal advisor Sarah Harrison who has accompanied him during his 39 day stay in the transit zone and continues to do so. She has remained with Mr Snowden at all times to protect his safety and security, including during his exit from Hong Kong. “They departed from the airport together in a taxi and are headed to a secure, confidential place,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
“Despite the ongoing pressure from the United States, which has been trying to interfere with this sovereign process in violation of the U.N. Protocol on the Rights of Refugees, Russia has done the right thing and granted Mr Snowden temporary asylum. The certificate of temporary asylum by the Russian Federation lasts for one year and affords Mr Snowden the right to live in and travel around Russia, where he can now plan his next steps in safety,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
On receiving his asylum certificate Snowden said, as quoted by WikiLeaks: “Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning. I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations.”
WikiLeaks commended Russia for accepting Snowden’s request and supporting him when many countries felt so compromised by U.S. threats that they could not.
Over twenty asylum requests to various countries were made to try to secure Mr Snowden’s passage. Throughout this period the United States took irregular and disproportionate actions to block Snowden’s right to seek asylum in violation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2312 (1967), which states that “the grant of asylum. . . is a peaceful and humanitarian act and... as such, it cannot be regarded as unfriendly by any other State.”
WikiLeaks said the United States is no longer a safe place for whistleblowers and national security journalists and urged that the U.S. government amends its ways, reverse this trend and re-establish its moral authority.
“President Barack Obama while elected on a platform promising to protect whistleblowers, has now prosecuted more national security whistleblowers than all other presidents in United States history combined. This bellicose response from the US administration makes it clear that Snowden could not receive a fair trial.
In the wake’s of Russia’s decision, Obama cancelled his trip to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin but said he would attend the G20 summit in St. Petersburg in September. The White House said that “there is not enough recent progress” in American-Russian relations to hold a bilateral summit in early September.
“We have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September,” the White House statement said.
The U.S. values “the achievements made with Russia in the President’s first term,” including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. However, “given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defence and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda,” the White House said.