Should Russia grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked information about sweeping National Security Agency surveillance programs, the U.S. should consider boycotting the 2014 Olympics in Russia, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says.
When The Hill newspaper asked Graham if he would back such a boycott, Graham said, "I would. I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them."
"It might help, because what they're doing is outrageous," he continued. "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 is currently stuck in legal limbo in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and isin Russia. He faces three felony charges in the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday Snowden has been taking any actions that could damage U.S.-Russia relations.
Other Washington leaders on Wednesday brushed off the idea. White House spokesman Jay Carney said he wouldn't engage in that kind of speculation because "the Olympics are a long way off."}
"We're not focused on that," he said. "We agree with President Putin that we do not want this issue to negatively affect" bilateral relations.
Carney reiterated the White House hasover the matter and has argued that "there is substantial legal justification for [Snowden] to be returned to the United States."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also brushed off the idea.
"I love Senator Graham, we've been close friends for 20 years, but I think he's dead wrong," Boehner told reporters. "Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who've been training three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can't find a place to call home?"
Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in in Moscow because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviets, in turn, boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.