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White House: We Expect Russia To Expel Snowden

After expressing "frustration and disappointment" because Hong Kong and China did not block "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden from flying to Moscow, the White House said Monday that it expects Russia will decide "to expel Mr. Snowden for his return to the United States."

Press secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. believes Snowden is still in Russia and that just as the U.S. has in the past returned wanted criminals to that nation, Russia will decide to now do the same.

Snowden, as we reported earlier, had been expected to be on a Moscow-to-Havana flight earlier today. But he did not board that plane. He has asked Ecuador for asylum, that country's foreign minister has said.

Earlier Monday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke by telephone to reporters from his self-imposed asylum in Ecuador's London embassy. WikiLeaks has been assisting Snowden in his effort to avoid U.S. authorities. According to The Guardian, Assange said that Snowden is "in a safe place and his spirits are high," but would not get more specific.

NPR's Larry Abramson, who listened in on Assange's call, adds that the WikiLeaks founder said Snowden is reportedly also seeking asylum from Iceland and possibly other nations.

For much more about Snowden and the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance programs, here's our timeline:

June 5: The U.K.-based Guardian newspaper reports that the National Security Agency has been collecting telephone metadata of U.S. customers of Verizon.

June 6: In its second expose on secret U.S. electronic surveillance efforts, the Guardian reports on a "highly classified" program called PRISM that allows the NSA access to servers of Microsoft, Google, Apple and other leading tech companies to collect emails and other data.

June 9: The Guardian identifies Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, as the source of the leaks of classified information behind its exclusive reports. The newspaper says Snowden asked that his name be made public, and links to a video of the 29-year-old consultant justifying his actions. The newspaper says Snowden has taken refuge in Hong Kong.

June 20: The Guardian reports that special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, courts gave permission to the NSA to retain "inadvertently acquired" domestic communications "if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity."

June 21: Federal prosecutors file a criminal complaint against Snowden, charging him with espionage.

June 22: The U.S. makes a formal request to Hong Kong to hand over Snowden for prosecution under the terms of a 1998 extradition treaty between Washington and the Chinese territory.

June 23: Snowden leaves Hong Kong on a plane that transits through Moscow, but his ultimate destination remains unclear. Ecuador's foreign minister says Snowden has asked that country for asylum.

June 24 (Monday): Snowden doesn't show up for a Moscow-to-Havana flight he was expected to board.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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