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After spending a night in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, Snowden had been expected to fly to Cuba and Venezuela en route to possible asylum in Ecuador.
Some analysts said it was likely that the Russians were questioning Snowden, interested in what he knew about U.S. electronic espionage against Moscow.
"If Russian special services hadn’t shown interest in Snowden, they would have been utterly unprofessional," Igor Korotchenko, a former colonel in Russia’s top military command turned security analyst, said on state Rossiya 24 television.
The White House’s tough response to Hong Kong’s decision to let Snowden leave came just two weeks after Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for two days of personal diplomacy in a desert retreat in California.
Carney said that after the U.S. sought Snowden’s extradition from Hong Kong, authorities there requested additional information from the U.S.
"The U.S. had been in communication with Hong Kong about these inquiries and we were in the process of responding to the request when we learned that Hong Kong authorities had allowed the fugitive to leave Hong Kong," Carney said.
Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said his government had received an asylum request, adding Monday that the decision "has to do with freedom of expression and with the security of citizens around the world."
Ecuador has rejected some previous U.S. efforts at cooperation and has been helping Assange avoid prosecution by allowing him to stay at its embassy in London.
But Assange’s comments that Snowden had applied in multiple places opened other possibilities of where he might try to go.
WikiLeaks has said it is providing legal help to Snowden at his request and that he was being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from the group.
Icelandic officials have confirmed receiving an informal request for asylum conveyed by WikiLeaks, which has strong links to the tiny North Atlantic nation. But authorities there have insisted that Snowden must be on Icelandic soil before making a formal request.
Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace and Associated Press writers Philip Elliott, Matthew Lee and Frederic J. Frommer in Washington, Lynn Berry and Vladimir Isachenkov and Max Seddon in Moscow, Kevin Chan in Hong Kong and Sylvia Hui in London contributed to this report.
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