U.S., China disagree sharply over handling of Snowden case

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:13pm EDT

Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in this illustration photo June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in this illustration photo June 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior U.S. and Chinese officials sharply disagreed on Thursday over China's handling of fugitive Edward Snowden, the former spy agency contractor accused of divulging U.S. surveillance program secrets who was allowed to leave Hong Kong last month.

In remarks after high-level political and economic talks, the United States said it was disappointed that Chinese authorities did not send Snowden, on the run in Hong Kong, back to face U.S. justice.

"We were disappointed with how the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong handled the Snowden case, which undermined our effort to build the trust needed to manage difficult issues," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi said Hong Kong's actions were in accordance with the law. "Its approach is beyond reproach," he said about the decision to not detain Snowden.

The disagreement soured the two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Washington.

Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow, where he is believed to be stuck in the transit area of the city's international airport, amid speculation he might board a flight to travel to Latin America where he has been offered asylum.

The U.S. government has charged Snowden with disclosing details about secret U.S. surveillance programs the Obama administration considers vital for national security.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov and Paul Eckert; Editing by Alistair Bell and Philip Barbara)

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Comments (24)
ennymousse wrote:
There are, either, too many “laws” in the World, or, there too many Lawyers

Jul 11, 2013 7:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Starfire wrote:
The Chinese are rightly or wrongly very annoyed that we haven’t returned their dissidents who have managed to leave China, despite repeated Chinese government requests for us to do so. We also lecture them, in my opinion rightly, for their limited human rights and basic legal protections of free speech and press, every chance we get.

Now the shoe is on the other foot and the Chinese aren’t all that thrilled about returning one of our dissidents. Tit for tat.

Jul 11, 2013 7:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
pbgd wrote:
The US had asked the HongKong government for extradition of Snowden, but the Chinese decided to violate the existing tradition treaty. The case is quite clear.

Jul 11, 2013 7:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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