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‘Consequences’ to follow if Russia and China help Snowden

DELHI — US Secretary of State John Kerry has said it would be “disappointing” if Russia and China had helped US fugitive Edward Snowden evade US attempts to extradite him from Hong Kong.

Speaking during a visit to India, Kerry said there would inevitably be “consequences” to such a move.

Snowden flew out of Hong Kong to Moscow yesterday.

He was thought to have flown to Cuba, but Ecuador’s foreign minister has since implied he was still in Russia.

Speaking during a visit to Vietnam, Ricardo Patino said Ecuador had maintained “respectful and diplomatic contacts” with the Russian government so Moscow can “make the decision it feels is most convenient in accordance with its laws and politics and in accordance with the international laws and norms that could be applied to this case”.

However, when asked whether he knew of Snowden’s current location he declined to answer.

Patino confirmed that Ecuador was processing an asylum request from Snowden, and read out the letter the fugitive had sent to President Rafael Correa in which he said he was “at risk of being persecuted by the US and its agents”.

Defending the decision to consider Snowden’s request, Patino said his country puts human rights “above any other interest that may be discussed or any other pressure it may be subjected to”.

Snowden is wanted by the US for revealing to the media details of a secret government surveillance programme, which he obtained while briefly working as an IT contractor for the National Security Agency.

The 30-year-old has been charged in the US with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.

The Hong Kong authorities have said he left the territory voluntarily, and that US extradition papers were incomplete so there was no legal reason to prevent his departure.

But Albert Ho, his lawyer in Hong Kong, told the BBC that a government official urged Snowden to go over the weekend. Ho said he believed the official was acting on the orders of the Beijing government.

Kerry told reporters in Delhi it would “be obviously disappointing if he was wilfully allowed to board an airplane”. (BBC)

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