WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama told Chinese officials he's disappointed with China's treatment of U.S. demands that Hong Kong hand over fugitive security contractor Edward Snowden, who instead was allowed to flee to Russia.
The issue surfaced during a meeting Saturday in Washington between Obama, Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who were representing China at strategic and economic talks, a White House statement said.
"The President expressed his disappointment and concern with China's handling of the Snowden case," according to the statement.
Snowden, who exposed classified U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, left Hong Kong for Russia on June 23 even as American authorities were pressing for his return to face prosecution. He's believed to be at a Moscow airport, where he's pursuing asylum in another country.
The U.S. pursuit of Snowden, 30, has emerged as a sticking point in international relations, particularly with Russia and China. Prosecutors in the United States are seeking Snowden's return and have brought theft and espionage charges against the former employee of McLean, Va.-based government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp.
Yang, China's state councilor, said Hong Kong officials' treatment of the case was "beyond reproach."
"The central government of China has always respected" the Hong Kong government's handling of cases in accordance with law, Yang said.