Meet the Press   |  June 23, 2013

Williams: Snowden now a legal and diplomatic issue

NBC’s Pete Williams discusses what course of action the U.S. government will pursue to bring Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges of espionage.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> bring in pete williams . i appreciate you dealing with delay as well. pete, can you bring us up to speed on where the justice department is on this? what are they prepared to do?

>> the request for extradition will follow wherever he ends up. the charges were filed under seal a week ago in the eastern district of virginia right across the river from washington, and the chinese, the hong kong government was informed of that, and the u.s. sought the next step, which is an arrest warrant. then after he was arrested the extradition process would start. administration officials say that the hong kong official came back to the u.s. just this past friday night with additional questions that the u.s. was in the process of responding when the hong kong authorities notified the u.s. that they decided to let him go. now, in their statement, the hong kong government says that the charges the u.s. filed, quote, did not fully comply with the legal requirements under hong kong law . i think it's fair to say that the u.s. is upset about this because it's the administration's claim that the filing of the charges was a back-and-forth with the hong kong authorities. they wanted to make sure that they would conform to the treaty, the extradition treaty the u.s. has, and that they'd received assurances that it would. so, this is quite a surprise, i think it's fair to say, for to the administration. but david, i think from now on this is a diplomatic issue not a legal one, because it's quite obvious he intends to seek asylum and that's where this process goes next.

>> what are the lengths to which the administration may be prepared to go? i'm not asking you to speculate, but what are going to be some of the menu of choices that they're going to have to be discussing?

>> the only ones i know are the diplomater and leg eic and legal ones. whether there are more exotic ones, sort of grab him and bring him back, i wouldn't know and of course they wouldn't say. that would be very controversial although i'm sure there are many members of congress who would agree and others who would think that's the wrong thing to do. as far as i know, this is strictly a diplomatic and legal one. i suppose if that was going to be the course, the u.s. had the chance to do that when he was in hopg congress and chose not