Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution Friday calling on President Barack Obama to recommend an alternative location for the upcoming September G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, should Russia continue to provide shelter for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The resolution also states that Russia is damaging its relations with the United States and should immediately hand Snowden over to American authorities so he can stand trial. Snowden faces charges of espionage for releasing classified information on the NSA's broad surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post in June.
After initially hiding out in Hong Kong, Snowden headed for Moscow where he has been stuck in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23. He applied for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday, though President Vladimir Putin has said the whistle-blower is expected to leave the country as soon as he can.
Graham has been at the forefront of lawmakers urging the Russian government to extradite Snowden, going so far as to suggest the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi should be boycotted if Russia grants Snowden asylum. The White House declined to speculate on Graham's idea; House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the South Carolina senator was "dead wrong."
Graham and Schumer recently strengthened their bipartisan relationship while working together on comprehensive immigration reform. The duo has also introduced a media shield law to protect reporters from leak investigations by the Justice Department. Whether they have support for their latest measure on Snowden remains unclear, but the senators issued a statement Friday citing the Russian government's recent actions in Iran and Syria as additional reason to penalize it.
"On multiple fronts, Russia is becoming one of the bad actors in the world," said Graham. "Russia continues to provide cover to the Iranian nuclear program and sell sophisticated weapons to the Assad regime in Syria to butcher tens of thousands of its own citizens. For Russia to grant temporary asylum to Mr. Snowden on top of all this would do serious damage to our relationship. It is past time we send a strong message to President Putin about Russia's actions and this resolution will help accomplish that goal."
"Time and time again. President Putin is too eager to stick a finger in the eye of the United States -- whether it is arming the murderous Assad regime in Syria, supporting Iran's nuclear development or now providing shelter and Russian state protection to Edward Snowden," said Schumer. "Enough is enough. It's time to send a crystal clear message to President Putin about Russia's deplorable behavior, and this resolution will do just that."
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