The United States is "extremely disappointed" in Russia's decision to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the White House said.
In its first public response to Russia's move to defy US wishes, the Obama administration said it was not a positive development for US-Russia relations and said it undermined Russia's record of law enforcement co-operation with the US.
"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and private that Mr Snowden be expelled and returned to the United States," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Mr Carney said Moscow had given the US no advance notice before announcing its decision to grant Mr Snowden asylum for one year. But he added that the US has a wide-ranging relationship with Russia, suggesting the America was reluctant to allow relations to deteriorate too substantially over the fugitive's status.
Mr Carney would not say whether Mr Snowden is in possession of further information about spying practices that could damage the US if released, but said the fact that he had removed classified information from secure environments, bringing documents with him to Hong Kong and then to Moscow's airport, posed a risk in and of itself
"Mr Snowden is not a whistleblower or a dissident," Mr Carney said. "He is accused of leaking classified information. He should be returned to the United States as soon as possible."