WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday urged Russia to expel former government contractor Edward Snowden without delay, saying Moscow has a “clear legal basis” for his expulsion.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the legal basis for expelling Snowden are the status of his travel documents and the pending espionage charges against him.
“Accordingly, we are asking the Russian government to take action to expel Mr. Snowden without delay and to build upon the strong law enforcement cooperation we have had, particularly since the Boston Marathon bombing,” she said.
The White House statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin ruled out handing over Snowden, who leaked details of U.S. surveillance programs.
Snowden had been in Hong Kong after making his revelations and flew to Moscow on Sunday. The United States revoked Snowden’s passport.
Hayden said the United States had seen comments from Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and “we understand that Russia must consider the issues raised by Mr. Snowden’s decision to travel there.”
“We agree with President Putin that we do not want this issue to negatively impact our bilateral relations. While we do not have an extradition treaty with Russia, there is nonetheless a clear legal basis to expel Mr. Snowden, based on the status of his travel documents and the pending charges against him,” she said.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jackie Frank and Bill Trott