Washington: A top American lawmaker called on Russia to extradite Edward Snowden to the United States, arguing that the former CIA contractor is a fugitive deserving prosecution and not a whistleblower worthy of protection.
"Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower worthy of protection, but a fugitive deserving of prosecution," said Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"He violated his sworn pledge to protect classified information. He jeopardised our national security. And he betrayed the trust of the American people. This man is no hero," Menendez said.
In a statement, Menendez called the failure of the authorities in Hong Kong to facilitate the extradition and execute the arrest warrant of Snowden "ill-timed and unfortunate", especially after recent bilateral talks to build confidence between China and the United States.
He added that reports Cuba may serve as a destination point for Snowden who is wanted on felony charges, as especially farcical.
"Should Mr Snowden consider Cuba for asylum, it would be the height of hypocrisy. To reveal sensitive information and engage in espionage in the name of safeguarding liberty and protecting privacy in the US could not be more inconsistent with the Castro regime`s denial of civil rights, freedom of speech, and brutal repression of opposition voices," Menendez said.
Several other lawmakers in US too were critical of China, Hong Kong and Russia.
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Hong Kong`s decision not to turn over Snowden "complicates" the US-China relationship. He also said the United States needs to make sure countries that harbour Snowden "understand the consequences".
Hong Kong has maintained that the US request for Snowden`s extradition did not satisfy Hong Kong legal requirements.
US has revoked Snowden`s visa, but he was allowed to travel from Hong Kong to Moscow regardless.