Obama 'disappointed' in Russia's Snowden decision

Published Aug 07, 2013 04:57pm
Television screens show former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at an electronics store in Moscow June 25, 2013. — Reuters Photo
Television screens show former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at an electronics store in Moscow June 25, 2013. — Reuters Photo

Burbank, California - President Barack Obama said he was ''disappointed'' that Russia had granted temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, defying administration demands that the former government contractor be sent back to the US to face espionage charges.

In his first comments about Snowden since Russia's decision last week, Obama said the move reflected the ''underlying challenges'' he faces in dealing with Moscow.

''There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,'' Obama said on NBC's ''The Tonight Show'' broadcast Tuesday night.

Snowden, an ex-NSA systems analyst, is accused of leaking details about highly secretive government surveillance programs. He spent several weeks in the transit zone of a Moscow airport before being granted asylum for a year.

Russia's decision has pushed the White House to reconsider Obama's plans to travel to Russia in September. He said he would attend an international summit in St. Petersburg, saying it was important for the US to be represented at talks among global economic powers. But he did not say whether he planned to attend separate meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The White House has said it was evaluating the ''utility'' of the Putin meetings.

Obama also criticized a new Russian law cracking down on gay rights activism, saying he has ''no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.''

Russia has said it will enforce the law when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Asked whether the law would impact the games, Obama said he believes Putin and Russia have ''a big stake in making sure the Olympics work.''

''I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently,'' he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Obama also discussed his recent lunch with Hillary Rodham Clinton, his rival in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. Clinton, who left the secretary of state post earlier this year, had a post-administration ''glow,'' Obama said.

But he sidestepped questions about whether she was planning to run for president in 2016. ''Keep in mind,'' Obama said, ''she's been there before.''


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Comments (4) Closed


Akil Akhtar
Aug 08, 2013 06:55am

There was a time when people would take refuge in the west to protect their freedom of speech against corrupt govt, the tables seemed to haev turned and more and more people from US are taking refuge elsewhere agaisnt their own govts suppression.

syed baqar ahsan
Aug 10, 2013 01:57pm

Now everything can't go American's way or desire.Better leave space for others say.

Tausif
Aug 10, 2013 07:04pm

''There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,'' Obama said..."

Well, the Cold War was never over as the U.S.' own actions across the world and around Russia and East Europe show! The American mindset has rather gotten worse after the fall of the USSR, and in countries where once the CIA operated are now under the full control of the US...Afghanistan is just one example. The web of which Snowden was a member is also part of the Cold War mindset otherwise spying on the citizens of other states including such so-called independent nations as Germany, UK and the rest of Western Europe is the worst kind of crime, which only a Cold War mindset could carry out...

R Harrison Scott
Aug 21, 2013 06:53pm

Why is it no one is talking about the elephant in the room? Like the IRS, what's to prevent a political zealot from data mining to identify an administration's allies and enemies? Think that's off the wall? Just how difficult would it be to identify those who take time to write supportive emails to a set of politicians or political pundits like LImbaugh or Matthews? Wake up folks.