Defending the massive US snooping programme as it “saved lives and averted terrorist acts”, US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday warned of severing ties with Moscow and Beijing over Edward Snowden’s escape to Russia from Hong Kong, saying it was “deeply troubling” if requests for his extradition go unheeded.
He also supported India’s move to cut down oil import from Iran as “an important step”, and warned Tehran against “miscalculating” international communities’ commitment to halt its nuclear programme.
In a joint press conference with external affairs minister Salman Khurshid after the India-US strategic dialogue, Kerry called Snowden “an indicted individual on three felony counts”, who had betrayed his country and should face the consequences.
Khurshid, too, subscribed to US President Barack Obama’s position on snooping helping save lives and thwart terror acts where Indians too were targeted.
The ministry, however, had earlier found the snooping “surprising and concerning”. Snowden is expected to seek asylum in Ecuador after being allowed to board a flight in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong on Sunday to Moscow.
“With respect to the China, Russia relationship and where this puts us, it would be deeply troubling obviously if they have adequate notice and, not withstanding that, they made a decision willfully to ignore that and not live by the standards of the law,” Kerry said.
“Wonder if Snowden chose Russia or China for assistance because they are such bastions of internet freedom,” Kerry said in a lighter vein.
After issuing the arrest warrant against Snowden, the US state department revoked the former intelligence operative’s passport and asked other countries to prevent him from travelling.
On being asked Russia’s role in Snowden’s flight, Kerry said “I would urge them to live by the standards of the law because that’s in the interests of everybody.”
Kerry patted India for cutting down its dependence on Iran for oil. “We are appreciative that India has worked hard to reduce its dependency on Iranian oil and that has been an important step,” Kerry said.