President Barack Obama has said there will be no “wheeling and dealing” as part of extradition attempts against whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Speaking on a visit to the West African nation of Senegal, Barack Obama said the case would be handled through routine legal channels.
“I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” the president added.
Edward Snowden, who faces espionage charges, flew to Moscow last weekend and requested asylum in Ecuador.
Barack Obama said on Thursday that he had not called China and Russia’s presidents about the case, adding: “I shouldn’t have to.”
He told a news conference in the Senegalese capital Dakar: “I’m not going to have one case of a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I’ve got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues.”
The president added: “My continued expectation is that Russia or other countries that have talked about potentially providing Mr. Snowden asylum recognize that they are a part of an international community and they should be abiding by international law.”
The US has accused Russia and China of helping Edward Snowden, which both deny.
President Barack Obama has said there will be no “wheeling and dealing” as part of extradition attempts against whistleblower Edward Snowden
Edward Obama said the leak highlighted significant vulnerabilities at the National Security Agency (NSA), the US electronic spying organization where Edward Snowden worked as a contractor until last month.
“In terms of US interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks,” he said.
Ecuador said on Thursday it had not processed Edward Snowden’s asylum request because he had not reached any of its diplomatic premises.
The country also renounced its multi-million dollar trade relationship with the US, saying its forthcoming renewal would not influence any decision on Edward Snowden’s case.
“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” said government spokesman Fernando Alvarado.
He also made an apparently tongue-in-cheek offer of economic aid to the US for human rights training.
The remarks come a day after the chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Robert Menendez, suggested punishing Ecuador economically if it offered asylum to Edward Snowden.
The American is wanted for leaking to media that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data under a surveillance programme known as PRISM.
On Thursday, Beijing accused the US of “double standards” on cybersecurity.
China’s defense ministry said the Prism programme “has revealed the concerned country’s true face and hypocritical behavior”.
Edward Snowden, now 30, fled to Hong Kong on May 20 before flying to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday, where Russian authorities say he remains in transit.
Although Russia has no extradition treaty with the US, Washington says it wants Moscow to extradite him without delay.
Russia denies reports its secret police have questioned Edward Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked.
Hong Kong officials said he had been allowed out of the territory because of a mistake in the middle name given on US arrest documents.
The US justice department dismissed that as a “pretext for not acting”.
Ecuador officials say it could take months to rule on an asylum bid by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said it had taken Ecuador two months to grant asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The website has been lending legal support to Edward Snowden, who is in a transit zone at a Moscow airport.
A WikiLeaks tweet said the American was “well” and being accompanied by one of its legal advisers “at all times”.
The website has not further elaborated on Edward Snowden’s whereabouts.
Both WikiLeaks and Russia have denied reports that the Russian secret police have questioned the American.
Edward Snowden first fled to Hong Kong before flying to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday.
He was expected to board a flight to the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Monday but his seat remained vacant.
Edward Snowden, 30, has had his US passport revoked and applied for Ecuadorean asylum.
Ecuador officials say it could take months to rule on an asylum bid by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden
On Wednesday, Ricardo Patino compared the case to that of Julian Assange, who has been living inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than a year.
Julian Assange walked into the embassy when his appeal against extradition to Sweden for questioning on accusations of sex crimes was turned down last June.
“It took us more than two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time,” Ricardo Patino told reporters.
Ricardo Patino said Ecuador had not yet decided whether to offer protection to Edward Snowden in the meantime.
“If he goes to an embassy, then we will make a decision,” the foreign minister said.
Ecuador said it would consider the American’s application “responsibly” and would weigh “human rights obligations”.
It added that the US would have to submit its position in writing regarding Edward Snowden.
Venezuela has also said it will consider an asylum application from Edward Snowden.
Edward Snowden’s case has caused a diplomatic spat, with the US accusing Russia and China of assisting the fugitive. Both nations have rejected the charges.
Russia earlier confirmed that Edward Snowden was still in a transit zone at the Moscow airport.
Although the country has no extradition treaty with the US, Washington said it wanted Moscow to extradite Edward Snowden without delay.
But Russia said that the American was technically not yet under its jurisdiction because he had not passed through immigration.
Meanwhile China described accusations that it allowed Edward Snowden to leave Hong Kong despite an arrest warrant as “groundless and unacceptable”.
The Chinese government has expressed deep concern about the leaker’s allegations that the US had hacked into networks in China.
Edward Snowden is wanted by the US for leaking highly sensitive information to the media about a secret government surveillance programme, which he obtained while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA).
He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Edward Snowden’s leaks have led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data under an NSA programme known as Prism.
US officials have defended the practice of gathering telephone and internet data from private users around the world.
They say PRISM cannot be used to target intentionally any Americans or anyone in the US, and stress that it is supervised by judges.
Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked documents on US surveillance programmes, has defended himself in an online chat, the Guardian reports.
Edward Snowden, 29, said US officials had destroyed any possibility of a fair trial by labelling him a traitor.
The former CIA contractor also denied suggestions he was a Chinese agent and repeated his claim that intelligence analysts could wiretap any phone call or email.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has denied such allegations.
James Clapper has said the kind of data that can be accessed, and who can access it, is severely limited.
But in the online chat, Edward Snowden said such restrictions were easily circumvented.
Edward Snowden took to live web chat to defend leaking NSA secrets
He acknowledged that the US internet surveillance programme did have a filter that was meant to exclude American citizens.
But he added: “The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the <<widest allowable aperture>>, and can be stripped out at any time.”
Edward Snowden said he had decided to speak out after observing “a continuing litany of lies” from senior officials to Congress.
“The US government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason,” Edward Snowden wrote.
Two influential members of the US Congress last week accused him of betraying his country.
Of claims that he was working for Chinese intelligence, Edward Snowden said: “This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public.”
Edward Snowden added that he had no intention of going back to the US or turning himself in.
“The US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me,” he said.
Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong have marched to the US consulate in support of ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
They demanded that local authorities protect Edward Snowden, who is in hiding in Hong Kong.
Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed that US agencies had systematically gathered vast amounts of phone and web data.
He also gave an interview to a local newspaper alleging that US intelligence had been hacking into Chinese computer networks.
Protesters and local politicians have demanded clarification from the US government on the allegations.
“Hong Kong is one of the few places in China where internet freedom is still OK. Now the American government is hacking into us,” one protester said.
“That is a crime against human rights.”
Another man brought a poster containing a picture of US President Barack Obama and the words “Big Brother is watching you”.
Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong have marched to the US consulate in support of ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden told the South China Morning Post this week that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had led more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including many in Hong Kong and mainland China.
He said targets in Hong Kong included the Chinese University, public officials and businesses.
Edward Snowden left Hawaii for Hong Kong shortly before the highly sensitive leaks surfaced and has vowed to fight any attempt to extradite him to the US.
“I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Edward Snowden told the Post, which said the interview was carried out in a secret location in Hong Kong.
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate.”
In a US Senate hearing earlier this week, NSA director Keith Alexander defended the internet and telephone data snooping programmes, saying they had disrupted dozens of terror plots.
Intelligence officials have insisted agents do not listen in on Americans’ telephone conversations. And they maintain the internet communications surveillance programme, reportedly code-named Prism, targeted only non-Americans located outside of the US.
Although the information leaked by Edward Snowden has angered the US government, so far he has not been charged by the authorities, nor is he the subject of an extradition request.
Hong Kong’s government says it does not comment on individual cases but will follow any request according to the law, our correspondent reports.
Analysts say any attempts to bring Edward Snowden to America may take months and could be blocked by Beijing.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed that the U.S. government has been hacking Hong Kong and Chinese networks for at least four years.
In his first interview since he revealed himself on Sunday, the 29-year-old whistleblower told the South China Morning Post that the NSA has hacked the country’s universities, businesses and politicians.
Edward Snowden claimed the agency had hundreds of targets – including the Chinese University of Hong Kong – from as far back as 2009, but that these were just a fraction of the 61,000 NSA hacking operations carried out globally.
He added that none of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he explained.
The hour-long interview, which took part in a secret location on Wednesday, came after Snowden fled to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii on May 20 after leaking sensitive documents about the NSA.
His actions have been both praised and condemned globally, with some hailing him a hero while others, including House Speaker John Boehner, calling him a traitor.
But in the exclusive interview, Edward Snowden said: “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”
He said he will stay in Hong Kong to fight any extradition bid from the U.S, and he hit back against people who have called his choice to flee to Hong Kong a gamble.
“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions,” he said.
“I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system.”
It is believed the U.S. is pursuing a criminal investigation against Edward Snowden, and on Tuesday, sources said officials were preparing to bring charges against him. No extradition request has yet been filed.
Inanother clip of the interview Edward Snowden said he has heard from a reliable source that the government is “trying to bully the Hong Kong government into extraditing me”.
Edward Snowden has claimed that the U.S. government has been hacking Hong Kong and Chinese networks for at least four years
“I will never feel safe,” Edward Snowden said, adding that he has also not contacted his family because he fears their safety too.
“Things are very difficult for me in all terms, but speaking truth to power is never without risk,” he said.
“It has been difficult, but I have been glad to see the global public speak out against these sorts of systemic violations of privacy.”
His interview comes two days after Edward Snowden checked out of a Hong Kong hotel where he was interviewed by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, which first published the story.
Since then, he has been nowhere to be seen.
In the Guardian interview, Edward Snowden had said he wanted to avoid the media spotlight, noting he didn’t want ‘the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the U.S. government is doing’.
With little new information to report on Edward Snowden or his whereabouts, focus has instead fallen on his American girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, a dancer who posted partially nude photographs of herself online before she also apparently disappeared.
Reporter Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian newspaper, who interviewed Edward Snowden for exclusive stories about his revelations, wrote late Tuesday that ‘it is thought’ Snowden was now in a private home in Hong Kong, but offered no details.
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who interviewed Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, has given a series of interviews about the case, but refused to reveal any information about his location or his plans.
The US has been divided in praising or condemning Edward Snowden after he leaked information about a global eavesdropping operation, PRISM, put in place by the government.
“He’s a traitor,” Boehner told ABC on Tuesday.
“The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it’s a giant violation of the law.”
Also on Tuesday, Edward Snowden’s employers, Booz Allen Hamilton, announced that it has terminated his contract ‘for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy’.
It said that the claims he had leaked information were “shocking” – and revealed that he was earning $122,000 rather than the $200,000 he told The Guardian he was paid.
As for his future prospects – although Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the U.S., the document has some exceptions, including for crimes deemed political.
Any negotiations about his possible handover will involve Beijing, but some believe China is unlikely to want to jeopardize its relationship with the U.S. over someone of little political interest to them.
Edward Snowden also told The Guardian that he may seek asylum in Iceland, which has strong free-speech protections and a tradition of providing a haven for the outspoken and the outcast.
And even Russia has stepped up to say it would consider offering him political asylum if he sought it.
“We will take action based on what actually happens. If we receive such a request, it will be considered,” said the Russian president’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the NSA’s surveillance secrets, thought about marrying his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and had previously taken her on a romantic break to Hong Kong – where he was last seen fearing arrest.
Edward Snowden, 29, and Lindsay mills, 28, were deeply in love and on her blog, she dotingly called him her “man of mystery” who she had followed around the world for the last four years.
On Monday Lindsay Mills took to the blog – where she has posted dozens of photos of herself – to tell of her heartbreak.
She wrote: “My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass.
“As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I’m reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path.
‘The ones I laughed with. The ones I’ve held. The one I’ve grown to love the most. And the ones I never got to bid adieu.
“But sometimes life doesn’t afford proper goodbyes.”
Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong after exposing the NSA’s PRISM program which gives officials easy access to data held by nine of the world’s top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Skype.
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for Lindsay Mills who had lived with Edward Snowden since at least 2009 when they were in Japan together.
Last year Edward Snowden whisked her 8,000 miles from their home south of Baltimore, Maryland to Hong Kong where family friends thought they got married because it was a “special place” for them.
Now he is back there, hiding out and terrified he will be arrested and extradited back to the US for leaking details about how the NSA puts millions of Americans under surveillance.
Lindsay Mills’ blog gives an insight into the ups and downs the couple went through – and her own feelings against the snooping state.
Their relationship may have been brought to an unconventional end – but it hardly seems conventional from the start.
Written under the name “L’s Journey”, Lindsay Mills calls Edward Snowden “E” and her “man of mystery”, whilst referring to herself as a “vagabond”.
On the face of it they are totally different people – she is an extrovert who enjoys walking around whenever she can, spends her Sunday evenings in circus classes and surrounds herself with bohemian eccentrics.
The title of her blog reads: “Adventures of a world-traveling, pole-dancing super hero.”
Edward Snowden by contrast is a shy computer geek from a suburban family who likes to spend Sundays at football games and needs to be coaxed out of his shell to even do karaoke.
Lindsay Mills writes that when she finally introduced him to her friends in Hawaii they didn’t believe he actually existed because he was so hard to pin down.
Before they moved to Hawaii they spent their days doing things like camping, pumpkin picking or skeet shooting together near their Maryland homes.
He bought her gifts like a Star Trek style visor and took many of the dozens of pictures of her on her blog.
Some of the posts now have a certain irony, such as her joking that she likes pretending to be a spy.
Their lives also seem to be very much up in the air and she writes of having traveled through 17 countries in her life.
In March last year she writes of how her “inevitable lover Change is knocking and I wish I had an answer for him”.
Lindsay Mills wrote: “We received word that we have to move out of our house by May 1.
“E is transferring jobs. And I am looking to take a mini trip back East. Do I move with E, on my own, to Antarctica? How long do I spend back home and when should I go?
“For now I’ll spin my magic ball and see where I land.”
Edward Snowden thought about marrying his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and had previously taken her on a romantic break to Hong Kong
That month Edward Snowden moved to Hawaii and two months later Lindsay Mills joined him.
She freely admits that it was to save their relationship as they appear to having been going through a rocky patch that continues after her arrival.
She writes how she seriously considers taking a plane home most days and that she can’t settle down – until July comes.
According to the rest of the blog, it was all idyllic until earlier this month, when the darkness returned to their lives.
Writing on June 3, Lindsay Mills said: “While I have been patiently asking the universe for a livelier schedule, I’m not sure I meant for it to dump half a year’s worth of experience in my lap in two weeks time.
“We’re talking biblical stuff – floods, deceit, loss. Somehow I’ve only managed a few tears amongst all of the madness of May.”
Another revealing aspect of her blog is that Lindsay Mills seems to share Edward Snowden’s views on the surveillance society.
Writing on July 4 last year Lindsay Mills said that the America she loves is “ever-changing” and that she is in “fear it’s straying from the freedom it has always represented”.
She wrote: “America is still one of the greatest, but she’s falling in my eyes. I hope her people see where she’s going and ask themselves <<is this really how I want to live?>>.
Another post will be of interest to investigators looking to find out what she knew – a poster in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is currently being considered by Congress.
If passed SOPA will make copyright rules more strictly enforced to a level which Mills claims is draconian.
On her blog she writes in terms that sound as if they could have been written by Snowden himself.
She wrote: “Normally I’d be hitting you with a riveting entry about my super hero life, but today I wanted to join others in protest of SOPA.
“A bill that poses to allow the government to control the very thing you’re reading my blog on – the internet. The way users (people like you and me) share information and ideas freely across the internet would most certainly change.”
She then urged readers to sign a petition and email their Congressional representatives.
Edward Snowden left Lindsay Mills behind in Hawaii weeks ago when he leaked classified information about PRISM, a secret government phone surveillance program that harvests data on millions of Americans from telecommunications and online companies.
He never told her where he was going or what he was doing – only that he needed to leave for a few weeks.
Edward Snowden is currently on the run, location unknown, after he fled the Hong Kong hotel where he is holed up
The TV news programInside Editionclaims to have tracked Lindsay Mills down in Hawaii, where she is the member of an acrobatic troupe.
It appears that she was performing with the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe. She also took classes last year from another troupe, Samadhi Hawaii, though never performed with the company.
Lindsay Mills lives in the home that Edward Snowden, a private contractor making $200,000 working with the National Security Agency (NSA), rented in Hawaii.
She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is a former ballet dancer.
When Edward Snowden revealed his identity in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday, he also revealed that his girlfriend knew nothing of his plans to make the biggest leak of classified government information since WikiLeaks.
Edward Snowden told the newspaper that Lindsay Mills was not surprised that he was packing his backs and not telling her where he was going.
“That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world,” he explained to the Guardian.
FBI agents visited the Pennsylvania home of Edward Snowden’s father and stepmother, just hours after the 29-year-old NSA whistleblower checked out of his plush Hong Kong hotel and went on the run from U.S. and Chinese authorities.
Two men, identifying themselves as FBI agents, dropped in on Lonnie Snowden, 52, and his wife Karen Snowden, 48, at their property in Upper Macungie Township, as the couple were still “digesting and processing” the news about their son.
Karen Snowden said on Sunday night that they had been “bombarded” by media since Edward Snowden revealed himself to have leaked top-secret documents detailing the government’s extensive surveillance programs.
The woman refused to give any details about her stepson, other than what he’d already offered up in interviews, but she told Lehigh Valley’s The Morning Call the family would be making a public statement in the coming days.
According to mcall.com, shortly after Karen Snowden shut the door, the two men approached the house, telling a photographer they were agents with the Allentown FBI office.
Lonnie Snowden, a former officer in the Coast Guard, told ABC News on Sunday that he had last seen his son “months ago” for dinner and the pair hugged as they said goodbye.
Tammy Reck, a neighbor, told mcall.com that she spoke briefly to the couple on Sunday, when they came out front to warn the residents of the media firestorm that was about to descend.
She said Karen Snowden was upset at the possibility of never seeing her stepson again.
“Not seeing a child anymore, that’s sad, no matter how old that child is,” Tammy Reck said.
The woman described the couple, who were married around five years ago in a backyard wedding, as “great neighbors”. On her Twitter feed, Karen Snowdon describes herself as a certified physical therapist specializing in women’s health, the pelvic area and obstetrics.
She has lived at her current address since at least 1998, records show. Lonnie Snowden lived in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where Edward Snowden was raised, then Crofton, Maryland, with his son’s biological mother Elizabeth Snowden, 52.
The whistleblower told The Guardian his family had no idea what he was planning, and that their safety was his greatest fear.
Two FBI agents dropped in on Lonnie Snowden and his wife Karen Snowden at their property in Upper Macungie Township
New York Republican Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and chairman of a House Homeland Security subcommittee, was the first to claim the former CIA worker, who he said “has done extreme damage to the US and to our intelligence operations”, should be brought home to face charges.
In a written statement today, Peter King said: “If Edward Snowden did in fact leak the NSA data as he claims, the United States government must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and begin extradition proceedings at the earliest date.
“The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”
Republican senator for South Dakota John Thune later echoed Peter King’s views.
“As long as you have laws on the books, and we do, you’ve got to enforce the laws,” he told CNBC.
“This is somebody who – it appears, at least – leaked sensitive classified information, and I think he needs to be prosecuted.”
And Republican senator for South Carolina Lindsey Graham tweeted on Monday afternoon: “I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the earth to bring him to justice.”
Meanwhile, former UN Ambassador John Bolton told a US radio station he thinks Snowden is guilty of treason.
In a passionate tirade onWLS,John Bolton said: “Number one, this man is a liar. He took an oath to keep the secrets that were shared with him so he could do his job.
“Number two, he lied because he thinks he’s smarter and has a higher morality than the rest of us… that he can see clearer than other 299-million 999-thousand 999 of us, and therefore he can do what he wants. I say that is the worst form of treason.”
Edward Snowden could face decades in jail if he is extradited from Hong Kong, said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers.
According to The Daily Beast, Edward Snowden was already being hunted by government officials even before last week’s explosive news stories triggered shockwaves across the globe.
The Daily Beast’s sources, former U.S. intelligence officers, said the agents trailing Edward Snowden work for the Associate Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, or “the Q Group”. The same group are more urgently searching for the whistleblower now.
The directorate in effect is the National Security Agency’s internal police force. The group monitor the NSA’s staff and contractors for unusual behavior that may pose an intelligence risk, the Beast writes.
The whistleblower, who earned $200,000 a year, exposed chilling details of how the covert agency, based in Maryland, gathers private information from Americans and others around the world using a program called PRISM.
Revealing why he blew the whistle Edward Snowden said on Sunday: “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
On Monday, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, hailed Edward Snowden a hero for fighting back against the government’s invasion of privacy.
“I think there has not been a more significant or helpful leak or unauthorized disclosure in American history ever than what Edward Snowden shared with The Guardian about the NSA — and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers,” Daniel Ellsberg told The Daily Beast.
Edward Snowden spoke to The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers from a room in Hong Kong’s five star Mira Hotel, located in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood just across the harbor from the mainland.