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THE SITUATION ROOM
NSA Leaker on the Run; NSA Leaker Whereabouts Unknown; Secretary Kerry: Snowden Must Face Justice; WikiLeaks Helping Snowden Dodge U.S.
Aired June 24, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. And this is a THE SITUATION ROOM special report, NSA leaker on the run.
Edward Snowden is dodging a worldwide manhunt right now, his trail going cold after fleeing Hong Kong for Russia. We're tracking his possible escape route.
Also, frustration and embarrassment for President Obama. Did U.S. officials drop the ball on the Snowden case? And will they take extreme measures to capture him?
And we will hear from the Snowden supporters who are paying for his travels. A spokesman from the anti-secrecy groups -- group WikiLeaks joins us live this hour.
It's a global game of hide and seek. The fugitive NSA leaker is trying to outrun and outsmart U.S. authorities. It's not clear where Edward Snowden is right now. It's possible, possible that he's on a plane from Russia to Cuba. We're tracking the flight. It's due to land this hour, or so. Going to find out if he managed to sneak on board. Snowden also trying to find asylum somewhere in the world. Could it be Iceland or Ecuador or other possibilities?
He fell off the radar screen after Hong Kong allowed him to leave yesterday and fly to Moscow, despite a U.S. request for his arrest on espionage charges. The White House says it assumes he's still in Russia.
CNN correspondents are all over this story. They're covering it around the world. We're live this hour in four continents. Also joining us are Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria. They're following the Snowden manhunt and the desperate measures the U.S. might take to catch him.
But let's begin with the very latest from our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Barbara, what are you learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour, it's been the same all day long, high-stakes poker between Obama and Putin, and the debate is over where is Edward Snowden and how the U.S. is going to get him back.
STARR (voice-over): If Edward Snowden is still in Russia, as the U.S. believes --
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's our assumption that he is in Russia, yes.
STARR: -- it could be Washington's best chance to get him back. That's why the U.S. is pressing the Russians so hard.
CARNEY: We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States.
STARR: That could mean Russian authorities going to the airport, taking Snowden into custody, and putting him on a plane to the U.S. It's a Cold War-style drama not seen in decades.
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Putin will have to decide whether he's more valuable as a trading chip or whether he just gets so much glee out of the embarrassment to the United States, he's going to put him on a flight to Havana.
STARR: If Snowden gets on a plane to Cuba or Ecuador, neither of those countries are likely to return him to the U.S.
TURLEY: Once Snowden leaves the Moscow airport, the chances for the administration dwindles dramatically.
STARR: Snowden could be in Havana only a short time. He has applied for asylum in Ecuador, whose foreign minister says Snowden is being persecuted.
CARNEY: The U.S. is advising these governments that Mr. Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel other than is necessary to return him here to the United States.
STARR: Another option, if an aircraft carrying Snowden enters U.S. airspace, air traffic controllers could tell the pilot to land. The president could also take extraordinary action, sending up fighter jets to order it to land. But experts say military force is unlikely.
TURLEY: That would create a colossal international incident, and I just don't believe the president wants to do that.
STARR: Now, look, Wolf, if Snowden is on a plane tonight with a destination of Ecuador, and he is granted asylum there that he apparently has applied for, relations between the U.S. and Ecuador are so poor, the U.S. is likely never to get him back, and certainly if he winds up in Cuba, don't expect him to head back to the United States either -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, we will see what happens. Thanks very much, Barbara.
The Obama administration clearly fuming right now that Snowden was allowed to leave Hong Kong and land in Russia. Did U.S. officials, though, drop the ball?
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is taking a closer look into this part of the story.
Jill, what are you learning?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now at this hour, senior administration officials are burning up the phone lines, and that includes the head of the FBI, who called his counterpart in Moscow. And their aim, as you heard, is to get them to give up Snowden, arrest him, and send him back to the United States.
What the administration doesn't want is a repeat of what happened in China.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): On June 14, with Edward Snowden hiding out in Hong Kong, the Justice Department filed sealed charges against him. The next day, the U.S. requested the Hong Kong government to provisionally arrest him for purposes of extradition.
But the State Department didn't revoke his passport until almost a week later. But they say they did it before he left Hong Kong. Claiming they needed more documents from the U.S., Hong Kong authorities allowed Snowden to board a plane anyway and flee to Moscow.
In an interview with CNN, Secretary of State John Kerry denied the administration committed a major blunder.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He was under a sealed indictment, and the moment the indictment was unsealed and we knew of it, at that point, his passport was pulled within two hours.
DOUGHERTY: The U.S. also did not ask Interpol to issue a red notice to arrest Snowden. A Justice Department official said a red notice is sent when you don't know a fugitive's location. But it was clear Snowden was in Hong Kong.
A furious White House says Hong Kong and Beijing knew exactly what they were doing.
CARNEY: We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official. This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.
DOUGHERTY: The State Department warns there will be consequences.
PATRICK VENTRELL, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESMAN: If we can't count on them to honor a legal extradition treaty, then there's a significant problem, so this is something we're raising very directly with the Chinese.
DOUGHERTY: Yes, but what kind of consequences? The State Department isn't saying. And China experts note that given that economic relationship and also the political diplomatic issues like Syria, retaliation could actually be counterproductive, Wolf.
BLITZER: -- at stake right now.
All right, thanks, Jill. Thanks very much.
Let's get to the mystery of that current flight from Russia to Cuba and whether Edward Snowden is actually on board. We're tracking its progress right now as it gets closer and closer to Havana. Supposed to land fairly soon, this hour, we're told.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann is the phone. He's joining us from the airport of the Cuban capital right now.
Patrick, what are you learning? what's going on?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, hi.
We're at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport waiting on that Aeroflight Flight 150. It is a little bit delayed now. It's supposed to be landing a little after 7:20 Eastern. And, of course, we don't know if Edward Snowden is on board. It's been one of the possibilities that's been thrown out there because of course there is regular flight service between Moscow and Havana.
So not only is it a way for him to leave Moscow, but of course he would coming to a country that might be (INAUDIBLE) his aims, either give him safe harbor or safe passage. But at this point, we don't know if he was able to get on a flight. There are many journalists who are on board this plane as well.
And before they took off, they reported that they didn't see any sign of him, so he would have had to have been snuck aboard this plane somehow. We just don't know. Cuban officials of course are not commenting yet. They're not commenting on any asylum requests or whether they would allow Snowden to enter the country or travel on to Ecuador or other Latin American country. So we're just going to have to wait and see. We have got about another hour-and-a-half before this flight finally lands here in Havana -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And there's been over these past few days no official public comment from anyone in a position of authority in Havana; is that what I'm hearing from you, Patrick?
We have been talking to Cuban officials. And so far, they just say they're monitoring the situation. I have walked all over this airport, and nothing out of the ordinary. There are some Russian diplomatic cars here. But, of course, that's probably normal when there's a flight coming in from Moscow (INAUDIBLE) regular flight service on most days here.
Now, nothing, anything out of the ordinary. But, of course, if Cuban authorities wanted to bring Edward Snowden in, they're very good at bringing people in and out of the country without us knowing. They have a lot of practice doing that. So, at this point, we just don't know if he's on this flight. We will have to see. He could be on a flight, but we might not see him. But, so far, we know that when many journalists got on this flight this morning in Moscow, Wolf, they said they saw no sign of him at all.
BLITZER: Yes. I suspect Cuban authorities would love to get their hands on those four laptops that he supposedly is carrying with him as well.
We will see what happens. Patrick, stand by. We will get back to you in Havana.
Meanwhile, officials in Ecuador say they received an appeal from Snowden for asylum, saying he fears for his life if he's returned to the United States.
CNN's Paula Newton is on the scene for us. She's joining us live from Ecuador.
What are they saying ? What are you learning down there, Paula?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ecuador has now been a little bit more up front about their involvement in this.
And make no mistake, Wolf. Without the involvement of Ecuador, this entire chain of events would not have started. Edward Snowden started off with those refugee papers apparently in Hong Kong. That's what allowed him to make his way into Moscow. We don't know where he is right now. We do know that the intention is for him to come here.
The Ecuadorian government saying, look, we want to uphold human rights. And for many, even here in Ecuador, Wolf, that really rings a little hollow, considering this is a country that is criticized for not having freedom of expression. It certainly isn't perfect, and that they have a lot of so called gag laws here against the media -- at least, that is the criticism from within.
At the center of all this, the president here, Rafael Correa, Correa he is actually a University of Illinois-educated economist, who at the same time seems to really understand what his economic and diplomatic political relationship should be with the United States, but does not hesitate. This is a man with a lot of confidence. He just came in, in a landslide victory here in February, Wolf. Does not hesitate when he can for political leverage to certainly show his independence with the U.S. and U.S. foreign policy.
They're saying right now they're looking out for the human rights of one individual -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So if he shows up in Quito, where you are right now in Ecuador, we assume he could stay there presumably if he wants for the rest of his life.
NEWTON: Absolutely indefinitely.
There is no reason that he couldn't, no reason certainly that Ecuador would turn him over, even if the U.S. requested. But if you're Edward Snowden, you're still taking a lot of chances. You know, years down the road, with this government or with another government, who's to say he won't be used as a political pawn for advantage down the road?
Right now, though, this seems this was either the best option or the only option that Edward Snowden had.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure he'd have to worry about a new government if it were to emerge down the road in Ecuador, what that new government might do as opposed to the current government.
All right, we will stand by and check back with you, Paula. Thanks very much, Paula Newton reporting from Ecuador.
Up next, is the NSA leaker making President Obama and the United States look weak? Our own Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria, they are both standing by.
And we're watching the flight from Russia to Cuba. Is Edward Snowden on board? We are going to tell you what we learn when the plane lands.
BLITZER: The manhunt for Edward Snowden is increasing tension between the United States and countries like Russia and China, which right now appear to be doing nothing to help capture the NSA leaker.
Let's get some more from Fareed Zakaria. He's the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." And CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, she's the host of "AMANPOUR" on CNN International.
Christiane, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, was adamant that the White House doesn't buy whatever the Chinese are saying about the release of Snowden to Moscow. What does this whole ordeal say about the current state of U.S.-China relations?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it just highlights what everybody knows is a pretty difficult relationship between the U.S. and China and the U.S. and Russia. And for China, I mean, look, they did let him go.
It's clear that they didn't want him on their territory. They don't want to be part of this diplomatic mess. But also, for them, it was a bit of a propaganda coup, because Snowden revealed that the U.S. allegedly was spying on China and Hong Kong and this and that. And, of course, the U.S., which accuses China of massive cyber-hacking, so China had that bit of propaganda coup.
And then in Russia, of course, Putin really wastes no opportunity to stick a finger in the eye of the U.S. It's really almost pathological how poisonous the relationship between Putin and the U.S. is right now. But, again, we will wait to see whether they decide what to do with Snowden, because if he's not in Cuba, most people think he is in that transit area in Moscow.
And then of course, with the Latin American countries in question, Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, all these countries, they make it their business to be anti-American. They are part of an alliance that is -- quote, unquote -- "anti-imperialist." So all of this for them also gives them a lot of nationalistic and public relations kudos.
BLITZER: What about that U.S.-Russian relationship, Fareed? Because it's pretty tense right now, not -- forget about Snowden for a moment. There are other issues that have underlined that tension, especially Syria, for example. But could you envisage Russia actually handing Snowden over to the U.S.?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you know, just last week, Putin and Obama reestablished the red line, that hot line between Moscow and New York that so dominated our imaginations during the Cold War.
I think President Obama should pick up the phone and pick up that red line and talk directly to Putin. I think it's conceivable that the Russians might play ball, but they will want something in return. Look, this is, as Christiane said, a huge P.R. bonanza for the Chinese, for the Russians, for the Ecuadorians.
But at some point, they will have to get back to doing business with the United States. And, yes, we do want some things from the Russians, and it's been a very tough relationship. The president, to his credit, has tried to create a kind of working relationship between the United States and Russia, saying, we're not always going to agree, but let's figure out a way to have regular communications.
This is a very good test. The Russians are going to want something in return and the question is, is there something we can provide? Because, otherwise, it's going to be very difficult to see how this resolves itself.
BLITZER: Let me press you, Fareed. What would be worthwhile for the Russians? What would the U.S. -- give me an example of something the U.S. would have to give Moscow in order to get Snowden.
ZAKARIA: Oh, there are trade issues, for example. The Russians have been trying to get Jackson-Vanik repealed, the restrictions on Russian grain export. There are the smaller things like that. There may be some Russian spies and affairs that are frankly still confidential. But the main question I would imagine that the Americans are thinking is, how much do we want to give up? At the end of the day, this is an embarrassment, but it's not as though -- Snowden is not a CIA station chief whom we're trying to get back and we're willing to trade things for. He's somebody who has broken the law. He's a felon. He has to stand trial here. It's an odd situation.
Snowden's odd behavior here is itself very odd, like Julian Assange. Civil disobedience, Wolf, is meant to be that you break the law because you believe the law is unjust and you are willing to take the punishment for it. That is after all what Martin Luther King did. That is what civil disobedience is about.
People like Snowden are saying we're engaging in civil disobedience, but we're also on the lam, we're going to run away so we face no consequences. So how you deal with a character like that is somewhat complicated.
BLITZER: Do you think, Christiane, the U.S. looks weak right now?
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I think beyond that -- I don't know whether it looks weak or not weak.
But I think this -- from what I'm hearing, this Snowden is in possession of an enormous amount of secrets that the United States does not want to get into the hands of anybody else, not just adversaries, but anybody, to let them know how they electronically survey. So I think that is slightly being obscured, the gravity of the amount of information that he has, in this sort of logistical discussion.
And by reverse also, the potential assault on civil liberties, that's also being a little obscured in all of this.
And then, of course, you have got the situation whereby these countries that Snowden is going towards are not known for being friendly to freedom of expression, or freedom of the press. So it's all, you know, exceptionally weird and tortured right now. But of course all these extradition laws have loopholes. This is really much more of a political situation between the U.S. and all these countries and it's going to take some kind of political resolution.
BLITZER: We don't even know if he's on that plane, not on that plane. But we should know fairly soon. All right, guys. Thanks very much.
We're tracking the flight, by the way, that may be carrying Snowden to Havana right now. It's due to land fairly soon. The world will be watching. We have a reporter at the Havana airport.
Critics want to know, why isn't President Obama saying more publicly about Snowden? There are pros and cons. We're taking a closer look at the possible reason why he's taking a back seat right now.
BLITZER: Happening now: The NSA leaker eludes capture, his exact whereabouts a mystery right now after escaping to Russia. Could he be on his way to Cuba right now? Edward Snowden is creating big diplomatic problems for President Obama and his team. The secretary of state, John Kerry, speaks to CNN about the tensions with Russia and China.
And Snowden's U.S. passport has been revoked, but a lot of people are asking, what took so long?
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a SITUATION ROOM special report, "NSA Leaker on the Run."
Right now, the NSA leaker could be in Russia. He could be on his way to Cuba. He could be somewhere else. Let's be honest. We don't know where he is. And the U.S. government doesn't seem to know either. We're tracking a flight right now from Moscow to Havana that's due to land shortly. There were indications Edward Snowden might take that flight. We will see what happens once it lands. We have a reporter at the Havana airport.
CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us right now with more on the hunt for Snowden after a sudden exit from Hong Kong yesterday.
What's the latest?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the latest is exactly as you said. Nobody at this hour knows where he is.
We know that not long ago, he was still on U.S. soil, just not that many days ago. But he got away from that position and now the hunt has been on. We know over the weekend he was in Hong Kong, where authorities were hoping he would be returned, but instead, he got on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow. This we know, because we have had witnesses tell us he was on the flight. This, we know because the Russians said he was on the flight.
This we know, because the Russians said he was on the flight. But that's where the certainty ends in this whole story. The Russians have said he did not enter Russia, which would imply that maybe he was in the airport the entire time or still is in the airport. Think about Tom Hanks in that movie "The Terminal." You're neither here nor there. You're in transit. That could be the situation. But we don't know that to be the case.
It could be that, in fact, he boarded this flight, which is going to land in a matter of minutes in Havana. We will hopefully find out. But we don't know that either. We have someone on that flight, and the person on that flight did not see him on board. Other reporters on flight, they saw his empty seat. They did see a van pull up to the plane before it left and somebody seemingly get out of that van and maybe get on board the plane. So it's possible he is in here.
And if that's the case, that means he actually flew right up over here, over the United States, over Atlanta, down the coast of Florida, right into Cuba. But we don't know that to be the case. It's possible that, instead of that, perhaps he took some later flight that would have happened out of that area. Or beyond all that, Wolf, there's speculation about the idea of some sort of private flight. Did he have some other way of getting out of the country? Once again, when we talk about this whole string here going from Moscow to Cuba to Ecuador, which everyone keeps talking about, that is simply speculation. Nobody knows.
The only thing we know with reasonable certainty is that he did move from Hong Kong to Moscow, and this is the last place that anyone outside of his circle seems to have seen him, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Tom, thank you.
President Obama says he's making sure the global manhunt for the NSA leaker is staying within the law. The White House is warning other nations that Edward Snowden is a wanted man, and they have a responsibility to keep him out or turn him over.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's got more from there -- Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
From the White House, there are no big noisy shows of outrage. Instead, they're following a playbook that's based on quiet behind- the-scenes diplomacy.
YELLIN (voice-over): President Obama is taking a low profile in the hunt for NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're following all the appropriate legal channels and working with various other countries to make sure that rule of law is observed. And beyond that, I will refer to the Justice Department.
YELLIN: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney blamed China for letting Snowden flee Hong Kong and warned:
CARNEY: This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.
YELLIN: As of Monday afternoon, the administration believes Snowden remained in Russia.
(on camera): Has the president made a call to President Putin, and if he has not, why not?
CARNEY: We have a strong cooperative relationship with the Russians on law enforcement matters and we expect the Russians to examine the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden.
YELLIN (voice-over): Perhaps the White House has been studying history. ANTHONY CORDESMAN, ARLEIGH A. BURKE CHAIR IN STRATEGY, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, there are very few options. We need to remember that, during the entire Cold War, we never could recover a defector or an intelligence agent once they went outside the narrow range of allied countries.
YELLIN: That hasn't kept the president's critics from pouncing.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: You hate to be in the middle of a crisis second-guessing the president, but where is he? Where is the president? Why is he not speaking to the American people? Why is he not more forceful in dealing with foreign leaders?
YELLIN: Senator Lindsey Graham sent Russia's ambassador to the U.S. a letter urging Snowden's return, calling the case "an important test of the reset in relations between our two countries."
But voices of caution say the president should not gamble U.S. prestige on a play he's likely to lose.
CORDESMAN: Avoid making this even more of an embarrassment to the United States. The problem is that advice is easy to give to the president. The chance that the American media and Congress will take it is virtually nonexistent.
YELLIN: Now Wolf, clearly the more the president comments on Snowden and the manhunt, the greater the potential embarrassment for the U.S. if Snowden is never extradited here to the U.S.
At the White House today, it was back to domestic matters as usual. The president held a meeting on immigration reform. Jay Carney talked about health-care implementation, and tomorrow the president plans to unveil huge climate change -- effort to combat climate change.
So the White House is pushing ahead with its domestic agenda. But in terms of the news that's getting out to the public, it's all being eclipsed, Wolf, by the stories of the NSA leaker -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica is over at the White House. Thanks very much.
Let's get some more now on the diplomatic fallout from Snowden's travels. The secretary of state, John Kerry, spoke with CNN's foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott, during his trip to India.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about Mr. Snowden right now. Tell me what the U.S. is doing to trying and get him back.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, the United States through various agencies is reaching out to lots of countries in an effort to try to secure Mr. Snowden. He needs to come back to America and face the justice system based on the choices that he's made.
LABOTT: Well, it seems a little bit that you let him fall through the cracks, because waited two weeks to revoke his passport. I understand there was no Interpol notice. So were there some errors made?
KERRY: That's actually not correct. That is not correct at all. He was under a sealed indictment. And the moment the indictment was unsealed and we knew of it, at that point, his passport was pulled within two hours. So his passport was pulled immediately that there was an unsealed -- not indictment, as a matter of fact; it was a complaint.
And so we don't know what authorities allowed him to leave under those circumstances. We obviously have to find out from the Chinese what happened. We hope that the Russians will recognize the request of the United States, particularly given that, over the last two years, we have sent seven prisoners back that they requested from the United States.
So we need to cooperate on this, because it's important to upholding rule of law. We hope they will.
LABOTT: I know you're trying to get the Russians to cooperate, but so far, it doesn't look as if they are. And you personally have invested a lot in your relationship with both President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. Now, they're not helping now, and even on Syria --
KERRY: Well, I don't know -- look --
LABOTT: Over the weekend, you said also that on Syria, the Syrians are playing -- the Russians playing a double game. You know, they're talking about a political process in Geneva and arming the regime and making that impossible. So why don't you have more leverage for all the investment that you're putting in this relationship?
KERRY: Let's wait and see what happens before we start making those kinds of judgments.
LABOTT: Have you spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov?
KERRY: I have not spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov, but the State Depart has talked to the Russians, and they are well aware of our position. And I think it's a huge mistake to start leaping into judgments while something is still unfolding. Let's wait and see where we are.
LABOTT: Well, if they don't cooperate --
KERRY: I'm not going to get into if you don't -- I'm not going to speculate. I'm not going to get into hypotheticals.
LABOTT: What kind of consequences is China going to face?
KERRY: I'm not going to get -- We'll see what happens when we find out exactly what happened. You -- if you have knowledge that Beijing made a decision, you have knowledge that I don't have. And I'm not sure where you have it from. But I don't know what the sequence was yet. And I doubt that you do or a lot of other people do. So let's find out precisely what took place here, and then we'll make our judgments.
LABOTT: Mr. Secretary, six Americans have been charged under the Espionage Act since the Obama administration took over, all of them for leaking information to journalists. This act has been used over the last 90 years very -- in isolated cases for the most notorious spies like Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen. Are you putting him in that category? I mean, can't you see the reputation of the United States as a democracy with a free press is being -- is being threatened here?
KERRY: On the contrary. What I see is an individual who threatened his country and put Americans at risk through the acts that he took. People may die as a consequence of what this man did.
It is possible the United States will be attacked because terrorists may now know how to protect themselves in some way or another that they didn't know before. This is a very dangerous act. And anybody who wants to make him a hero is misjudging how they stay safe day-to- day and how complicated it is to protect America in today's world of self-made terrorists and of Internet radicalization and other things that take place.
You know, when the Boston Marathon bombers were suddenly uncovered, and everybody realized these guys have been using the Internet to radicalize themselves and learn how to make the bomb, what was the first question people asked? They said, "How come you guys in the government didn't know these guys were doing this and radicalizing themselves?" Well, the answer is because we don't look at people's e- mails. And we don't go inside and just do a random scoop like that.
So people need to really draw a distinction here between the degree to which protections exist in the United States for all of the rights of free speech and communication and association versus an anonymous random program that is attempting to protect Americans. I'll stand by that distinction any day of the week.
BLITZER: Tough words from the secretary of state, speaking with our foreign affairs reporter, Elise LABOTT.
On the run with the help of WikiLeaks. Up next, I'll speak to a spokesman for that organization about what they're doing in trying to help Snowden, and if they know where he is right now.
We'll also go live to Hong Kong. Why did officials there let Snowden leave for Russia?
BLITZER: Take a look at this flight tracker. Says that Aeroflot Flight 150 from Moscow to Havana getting ready to land in Havana, getting closer and closer. It's been about a 12-hour flight from Moscow to Havana. We're watching what's going on. We don't know if Edward Snowden is on that plane, but we should know fairly soon for sure. We have a reporter aboard that Aeroflot flight. We also have Patrick Oppmann on the scene at the Havana Airport. We'll let you know as soon as we know.
The NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, is getting help with his global odyssey from WikiLeaks. That's the organization made famous for publishing corporate and government secrets. Kristinn Hrafnsson, he spokesman for WikiLeaks, is joining us now from New York.
Thanks so much, Christian, for joining us. Do you know where Edward Snowden is right now?
KRISTINN HRAFNSSON, SPOKESMAN, WIKILEAKS: Yes, we know where he is, and he is safe and well. But I cannot disclose his location at this moment, nor the plan that he has for -- for travel.
BLITZER: Why is that? Why can't you tell us where he is without providing necessarily an exact address, can you at least tell us, is he on that flight to Havana that's supposed to land?
HRAFNSSON: I cannot go into any details. I'm sorry about that. And it's for security reasons, and we've been asked to do that. And of course, if you consider now that there's a request by the administration here to other countries to rendition him back to the U.S., it calls for concerns, as well. So -- but he is safe and well.
BLITZER: And so you personally know where he is, but you're not at liberty to share that information with our viewers, is that right?
HRAFNSSON: That is correct.
BLITZER: All right. Will we know fairly soon? Will we be able to get that information fairly soon? Or is it going to remain secret for a long time?
HRAFNSSON: It will be known fairly soon, I would say, without going into any details or narrowing it down.
BLITZER: Within the next few days?
HRAFNSSON: Without narrowing it down, fairly soon, I would say.
BLITZER: So I assume maybe within the next few days, but you say he is safe.
Can you share with us what his mood is right now? You saw that story in "The New York Times" describing his final hours in Hong Kong. He was apparently so worried about, if he came back to the United States, losing his access to the Internet. What can you share about his mood based on what you've heard from your colleagues at WikiLeaks?
HRAFNSSON: Well, what I hear is that he is in a very good spirit, and he knows that he has done the right thing and he is, in my mind from what he has described, a patriot. He is worried about the narrative, actually, not being on the real issues here at hand. Mainly what he has been disclosing. The important information that is now out there in the public about this surveillance. And following the media today, I'm not surprised because it's very much about this cat-and-mouse game instead of focusing on the revelations. And that's where the focus should be.
BLITZER: You heard the secretary of state tell our own Elise LABOTT in this interview that he did and that we just aired that Americans might die, he says, because of what Snowden has done. He's endangered, he says, American lives. What's your reaction to that?
HRAFNSSON: My reaction is that you should ask a further question and ask the secretary of state to clarify that, because it's propaganda. We heard the same thing at WikiLeaks years ago when we started publishing the diplomatic cables and the field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. We were accused to have already maybe have blood on our hands.
Now three years have passed since these important leaks by WikiLeaks, and there's not a single report that anybody has been harmed as a result of those leaks. Let me suggest that the same thing will apply to the important revelations by Snowden.
BLITZER: Is it true he has four laptops with a lot of NSA information, classified U.S. information still on those laptops, information that has not yet been made public?
HRAFNSSON: I cannot go into details about what kind of computers he has and how many, but he has indicated that certainly there is more to come.
BLITZER: Do you personally know what else he has, what kind of information he still has that has not yet been released?
HRAFNSSON: I can't really discuss any matters that pertain to this.
BLITZER: When you speak about rendition, what is -- what is your sense that the U.S. might try to snatch him someplace and bring him to the U.S.? Is that what you're suggesting?
HRAFNSSON: Well, that is something that he himself has suggested in an interview he did with "The Guardian" when he identified himself as the source of this information. That was a concern that he has, and if you look at the past history, of course, that has been known to happen. So of course, that is a legitimate concern.
BLITZER: When did WikiLeaks get involved in this case?
HRAFNSSON: Well, I can say that, without going into details in the timeframe, that we made it public when he identified himself that we were willing to support him, and we understood the importance of what he has done, and we know how difficult it is to stand forth and in your earlier segment, there was discussion about this ridiculous war on whistleblowers that is now going on in this country. Our assistance has been limited to access to our legal team. Connecting with his legal team. Of course, we have an expertise there in terms of extraditions and asylum requests, international treaties for obvious reasons, with reference to Julian Assange.
And secondly, we have a go-between between his legal team and the various officials of government, passing on messages and asking for asylums. I did that personally in my home country in Iceland, and the same thing has applied to the Ecuadorian authorities, and that has been our role.
BLITZER: Could you see him winding up in Iceland?
HRAFNSSON: Well, that is a possibility. I would -- Iceland is a relatively nice and safe country. But let's see what happens.
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you. Kristinn Hrafnsson, thanks very much for coming in.
HRAFNSSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, Edward Snowden's passport has now been revoked. But would the U.S. have had more options if it had revoked that passport earlier? Our analysts are standing by.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Aeroflot Flight 150 has now landed in Havana. The flight from Moscow to Havana is on the ground. Patrick Oppmann, our correspondent in Nevada, is standing by at the airport there.
What do you see, Patrick? Tell us what's going on?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, we've just seen the flight land. Aeroflot Flight 150, about 12 hours of flying, land here in Havana, taxiing towards the main airport terminal three here at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.
Of course, the big question is, is this plane carrying Edward Snowden? One of the possibilities -- it's just a possibility at this point -- is that he might try come to Ecuador via Havana.
Of course, you know, this is the plane route that many -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) didn't see any sign of Edward Snowden. So as the plane, the passengers come off, if in fact, we see any sign of -- of Edward Snowden, I can tell you there's been something of more of a police presence than usual at the Havana Airport. But it's probably because there's a lot of media here. There are various reporters inside the airport.
I'm looking at the plane right now, and as of now, no cars or anything like that. It's appears to be a fairly normal landing. And we're just going to have to wait (ph). BLITZER: We have a reporter on that plane who's going to be getting off, as well, and we'll check in with him. Patrick, stand by. We'll get back to you as soon as we know more.
Patrick Oppmann, is at the Havana airport.
Let's talk a little bit more about what's going on with Jeffrey Toobin. He's our senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, and Tom Fuentes, the former assistant FBI director, CNN law enforcement analyst.
Tom, you were one of the first, if not the first, who suggested right away, two weeks ago, that the U.S. should immediately revoke his passport. That would put, you said, enormous pressure on Hong Kong to prevent him from leaving. Why did it take so long?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't know. That's a good question. I don't know if maybe they were having back-channel discussions and didn't want to force the Chinese to make that decision.
But again, if they had -- if they had brought the charges immediately -- and here's a guy on public television telling the world that he committed felonies. So they could have charged, based on the comments that me made, admissions he made, and then immediately notify the State --
BLITZER: And why did they have to put it under seal and then -- and then spend another week before they released him?
FUENTES: Yes. Ten billion people in the world know he's committed these felonies, and the charges were sealed. I have no question, no idea why -- why seal them, what the benefit. Normally you seal charges because you don't want the bad guy to know you're looking for him and to escape. Well, this is pretty clear: he's beyond that when he was making these admissions in Hong Kong. So I don't understand why the charge were sealed, and I don't understand -- there may be a great explanation --
BLITZER: Jeffrey, do you have any clue of what's going on?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Secretary of State Kerry in his interview with CNN earlier said he -- that his passport was -- was taken away before he left Hong Kong. So the fact that he didn't have a passport --
BLITZER: He left on Sunday, and it was revoked on Saturday.
TOOBIN: Revoked on Saturday. So he obviously didn't need a passport to leave.
I just think this was a political operation from the beginning. The Chinese government wanted him out of there, and they got him out of there. I don't think what we did when we -- we revoked his passport, when we filed the charges, mattered much at all -- mattered much at all. China wanted him out, and he left. That's all -- and our involvement was not positive or negative. It just was irrelevant --
BLITZER: Because you used to deal with these kinds of issues when you were at the FBI: international matters, revoking of passports, seeking extradition. So you know a lot about this.
FUENTES: I know how the process is supposed to work. And that's fine for gangsters and financial criminals and drug traffickers. But this became an international political incident. And so at that level, it's different than the normal routine, whether it be extradition or deportation when a person's passport's been revoked.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thanks very much.
Jeffrey, thanks to you, as well.
So where in the world is Edward Snowden? Jeanne Moos will take a closer look at the global odyssey capturing a lot of attention around the world.
BLITZER: Breaking news. That Aeroflot Flight 150 that may -- may -- be carrying Edward Snowden is now on the ground in Havana. We'll have more on what's going on.
But in the meantime, Jeanne Moos, like all of us, wants to know where is Edward Snowden?
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And you think you've had some bad vacations. It was as if the world press were Edward Snowden's travel agent.
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Is he going to go to Cuba? Is he going to go to Venezuela?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he goes to an independent third country like Iceland --
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: No report yet he's going to North Korea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haven't heard that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only one not on the list yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't rule anything out.
MOOS: No wonder they needed maps.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He planned to fly to Cuba on his way to seek asylum in Ecuador.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll actually fly over the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where in the world is Edward Snowden? MOOS: Cartoonist Jeff Danzinger imagined him in midair, jumping from a Russian Aeroflot plane to Air Ecuador.
As the media massed at a Moscow Airport, chasing diplomats, showing Snowden's picture to passengers, it felt like a certain movie.
CHARLIE ROSE, PBS: NSA Leaker Edward Snowden plays "Catch Me if You Can."
(MUSIC: "Come fly with me. Let's fly. Let's fly away.")
MOOS: The Leonardo DiCaprio con artist character used a bevy of flight attendants to distract those pursuing him.
(MUSIC: "Let's go down to Peru.")
MOOS: Make that Ecuador.
But when reporters piled on the plane they thought would take Snowden there --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a producer on that plane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had our own crew on that plane. They went up and down -- they didn't see him on board.
MOOS: -- just an empty seat where Snowden was expected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty percent of the people on board this aircraft are going to be journalists.
MOOS: CNN's Phil Black was one of those stuck on the 12-hour flight without Snowden, who seemed to melt away. No wonder one YouTuber portrayed Snowden as Snowman.
"Guardian" columnist Glenn Greenwald tweeted that "All the media excitement was this white Bronco moment," but at least we knew O.J. Simpson was actually in the vehicle we were following.
Jimmy Kimmel tossed Snowden into one nonsensical, confusing question of the day to see what folks would say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you agree with the commissioners' decision to postpone game seven tonight because Edward Snowden leaked Obama's plan to use drones to strike down the summer solstice?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I don't think this is the interview for me.
MOOS: Snowden often got some advice on where to go from David Letterman.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS'S "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": He should go to the Olive Garden. You're always family here.
MOOS: It's better food than on that Aeroflot flight.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
(MUSIC: "Come fly with me.")
MOOS: -- New York.
BLITZER: The plane, there you see, on the ground in Havana right now.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.