The United States and Russia have butted heads over the past few weeks about what to do with Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked confidential information about government surveillance programs. Snowden, who is currently being held in the international terminal of a Russian airport, applied for asylum in the country, and Republican senator Lindsey Graham wants the United States to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi if the request is granted.
“I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them,” Graham told The Hill Tuesday. “It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous,” Graham said. “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.”
Other American politicians aren’t quite on the same page, including Republican speaker of the house John Boehner, who said, “I love Senator Graham. We’ve been close friends for close to 20 years. And I think he’s dead wrong. Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), agreed, saying, “I don’t know whether we should go that far. If they grant asylum or help Snowden, there ought to be repercussions. I can’t say what they will be. I’d have to study Lindsey’s suggestion, but I share his exasperation with Putin.”
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According to the report, “Several Russian lawmakers have criticized Graham’s boycott suggestion. Aleksey Pushkov, who serves in Russia’s lower house of parliament told Russian news channel RT that Graham’s statement was ‘pulling us back to the distant past, the time of mutual boycotts when our two states were looking at each other through nuclear sights.’”
On Wedneday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to answer whether or not the United States was considering boycotting the games, saying "I'm not going to engage in speculation about that, and the Olympics are a long way off.”