By Justin Sink - 06/24/13 06:55 PM EDT
President Obama said Monday that the U.S. is “following all appropriate legal channels” in attempting to extradite Edward Snowden.
“What we know is that we're following all the appropriate legal channels and working with various other countries to make sure that rule of law is observed,” Obama said Monday afternoon at the top of a meeting with business leaders to discuss immigration reform.
Snowden, the 29-year-old former defense contractor responsible for leaking information about top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs, is believed to be in Russia after Hong Kong officials allowed him to leave their country despite a U.S. extradition request.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney blasted Hong Kong and Chinese officials, arguing their decision would hurt relations.
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” Carney told reporters. “This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant. And that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”
The Hong Kong government maintained over the weekend that an American request to extradite the admitted leaker did not include enough information to legally detain Snowden or prevent him from leaving the country, despite federal charges of espionage and theft.
Carney said Obama “has been regularly briefed by his senior staff on this situation,” but would not confirm whether he made calls to Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also said the United States was reaching out to Russia in hopes of extraditing Snowden from Moscow.
The administration has also reached out to other nations that may harbor Snowden, including Ecuador, where he has requested asylum.