Leak by Snowden a national security breach: Hagel

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel termed the leak of NSA surveillance programs as a severe national security breach as he expressed disappointment over Chinese govt`s decision to let Snowden fly out of Hong Kong.

Washington: US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has expressed disappointment over the decision of the Chinese government to let Edward Snowden fly out of Hong Kong as he termed the leak of details of secret US government surveillance programs as a severe national security breach.

Moreover, Hagel hoped that the Russians would take a right decision to deport Snowden to the United States. Snowden has not been sighted since arriving in Moscow on a flight from Hong Kong on Sunday and according to Russia is still in a transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport.

"I would hope that the Russians do right thing here and turn Snowden over to the United States. He has broken laws. As far as I know, the decision of the Russian government - at least a final decision hasn`t been made yet," Hagel said on Tuesday at the Pentagon.

"As to the damage done to this country, there was damage done to this country by the Snowden leaks. And we are assessing that now. But make no mistake, this violation of our laws was a serious security breach in our national security apparatus," said Hagel.
When asked about the impact of the Snowden episode on US-China relationship, Hagel said, "We are very disappointed in the Chinese government, in how they`ve handled this, and it could have been handled a different way. But in addition to that comment, I would say that, you know, relationships are not built around just usually one or two issues."

"I think it`s important that we both work toward the common interests of our countries to try to find some common purpose. And this was an occasion, I think, where we had an opportunity to do that, but that was the decision of the Chinese government," he added.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the extent of the damage is being accessed.

"But just simply stated, if our adversaries are witting and know the way in which we try to gain information about them, then clearly, they will seek to change their tactics. And we`ll be in a position of trying adjust our tactics as well. But we`ll know more about that soon," Dempsey said.