President Obama should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia if it gives asylum to Edward Snowden, United States senator Lindsey Graham told The Hill on Tuesday.
“I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them,” the Republican senator from South Carolina said when asked about the possibility of a boycott.
“It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous,” he told The Hill. “We certainly haven’t reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it’s a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States.”
Snowden, who has been charged with espionage for leaking details about two National Security Agency programs that collected information about U.S. telephone calls and international Internet usage, officially filed a request for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday.
He pledged to stop leaking information that could damage the United States.
Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in the coastal city of Sochi, near the border with Georgia. The games are set to begin Feb. 7.
Tensions have been building in the already cool relationship between Russia and the Obama administration over Snowden.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the administration’s “message has been clear and consistent with every government” on how they believed Snowden should be handled.
“Our position is that Mr. Snowden ought to be expelled and returned to the United States,” Carney said, saying that Snowden would be offered “every bit of due process”.
“This should not be something that causes long-term problems for U.S.-Russia relations,” Carney added.