Nightly News   |  June 24, 2013

Snowden manhunt impacts US relations with China, Russia

As of Monday, NSA leaker Edward Snowden was still on the lam. He has managed to evade U.S. officials, who are reportedly furious with China for letting him escape to Moscow after the FBI thought they had him bottled up in Hong Kong. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> good evening. he seems to be for the time being the most wanted man in the world. much of the day today, much of the past weekend, no one sure with any certainty where edward snowden is. that remains true tonight, various authorities hunting down his location, monitoring aircraft, working hard to bring him to justice. after his leak of surveillance data and methods that the u.s. is involved in, today the united states bluntly took on those who may behar bo harboring him in the meantime. we begin with foreign correspondent andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: tonight, snowden is believed to be in russia , after failing to show up for a flight he booked from moscow to havana. snowden 's seat, 17a, still empty. u.s. officials are furious with china after they thought he was bottled up in hong kong .

>> i wonder if mr. snowden chose china and russia as assistance in his -- you know, in his flight from justice because they are such powerful bastions of internet freedom .

>> reporter: snowden delight the beijing by leaking information that u.s. has been hacking china's secrets. u.s. officials say china undoubtedly downloaded snowden 's laptop, before letting him go. claiming a flaw in the fbi's paperwork.

>> we're not buying this was a technical decision by a hong kong official. a deliberate choice by the government to release the fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant.

>> reporter: the pressure on russia as the secretary of state made clear.

>> we continue to hope the russians will do the right thing. it's very important in terms of our relationship. think it's important in terms of rule of law.

>> reporter: vladmir putin is hardly an ally. jim maceda is in moscow.

>> reporter: putin seems to thrive on confrontation with the u.s. protecting snowden from the brunt of u.s. law protects him from such a moment, and for putin , it may be worth the risk.

>> reporter: how does he move around the world so easily? he has help from wiki leaks , julian assange.

>> edward snowden is not a traitor. he h he is not a spy. he is a whistleblower who has told the public an important truth.

>> reporter: miguel almaguer has more.

>> reporter: there is risk of angering the u.s.

>> reporter: this is ab embarrassment for the u.s.

>> we are following the appropriate legal channels and working with other countries to make sure rule of law is observed.

>> reporter: today, john kerry told nbc news that snowden 's action were despicable. but the u.s. doesn't seem to be any closer to getting him back.

>> the u.s. can say whatever it wishes and the press secretary can get angry and so on, what real power does the united states have here?

>> a lot of leverage against russia and china. working behind the scenes , but short of rendition, that's not going to happen, getting him out of russia . they have to exert pressure and hope diplomacy works, but putin is a tough customer.

>> andrea, thanks.