White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that China and Hong Kong made a “deliberate decision” to let National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong for Russia, and that it “unquestionably” serves as a setback to U.S.-China relations.
“That decision unquestionably has a negative impact on U.S.-China relations,” Carney said during the White House’s daily press briefing on Monday.
“The Chinese have emphasised the importance of building mutual trust, and we think that they have dealt that effort a series setback,” he added, in what served as a strong, terse statement.
Carney painted much of the same picture as a Department of Justice official and called the decision “troubling.” He said that the White House didn’t “buy” suggestions that Hong Kong allowed Snowden to leave based on technicalities.
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” he told reporters. He said that the White House has expressed “frustration and disappointment” with both Hong Kong and China over Snowden’s departure.
Carney said that the U.S. now assumes Snowden is still Russia, and that it is “in talks with Russian authorities” about Snowden. He said that upon recent revelations, it’s clear that Snowden’s “true motive has been to injure the national security of the United States.”
Earlier, a Justice Department official told Business Insider that the U.S. was “disappointed” and that it “disagrees” with the Hong Kong government’s “troubling” decision on the matter.
“At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the U.S.’s provisional arrest request,” the official said. “In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling.”
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