“We consider the allegations that Russia violated U.S. laws and all but colluded with Snowden to be absolutely groundless,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday on Twitter. “We have nothing to do with Mr. Snowden or his movements around the world. He chose his route himself.”
In failing to act on the Obama administration’s extradition request, Hong Kong’s government turned the table on Washington, saying that it had officially sought “clarification” from the United States about reports of its hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong. It said it would follow up on the matter “to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.”
The international scrutiny stirred up by the disclosures has been reminiscent of the fallout from the leaking of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks in 2010.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, which is helping Snowden in his bid for asylum, said the spying revelations have begun to turn international opinion against the United States.
“Other countries are starting to examine how these programs touched them,” he said. “Everyone is focusing on China and Russia right now, but I would not rule out that other countries in the world, even in Western Europe, would be favorable to Mr. Snowden right now. There has to be at some point an acknowledgment that U.S. laws are not international laws and not everyone has to obey them.
“What is being revealed now in these overgrown tactics and bullying is quite interesting, and it is being observed by countries all over the world,” he added. “They are seeing an unwillingness by the United States to deal with the real issue at hand, the need to investigate and explore and critically examine the information that was revealed by Mr. Snowden and to examine evidence about whether Congress was lied to or misled.”
The revelations have also unnerved some U.S. allies. In Germany, where memories of domestic surveillance by East Germany’s Stasi state remain fresh, reaction has been mixed.
German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has not pulled any punches. “America has been a different country since the horrible terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” she wrote in Der Spiegel Online. “The relationship between freedom and security has shifted, to the detriment of freedom.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the first foreign leaders to criticize the Obama administration’s surveillance program. But her remarks have been more tempered in the ensuing days, in part, according to some observers, because Germany benefits from electronic snooping by the United States.
Anthony Faiola in London, Juan Forero in Bogota, Colombia, and Michael Birnbaum in Berlin contributed to this report.