House Speaker John Boehner said Sen. Lindsey Graham was "dead wrong" to suggest that the U.S. boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia grants asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
"I love Sen. Graham. We’ve been close friends for 20 years, but I think he’s dead wrong," Boehner, a Ohio Republican, told reporters Wednesday, adding, "Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who've been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can't find a place to call home?”
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, told the Hill
on Tuesday that he would support a boycott of the Sochi Olympics over Snowden, who leaked classified information about the NSA's secret surveillance programs.
"I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them," Graham said.
Graham said that an Olympic boycott "might help because what they're doing is outrageous. 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."
Meanwhile, a top Russian lawmaker close to President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday also slammed Graham's call for a boycott
Alexey Pushkov, head of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, told Russia's RIA Novosti, "Sen. Graham's calls to boycott Olympic games because of the Snowden affair kicks us back to the remote past, to the times of mutual boycotts when our two countries looked at each other through, figuratively speaking, nuclear sight."
Snowden formally requested temporary asylum from Russia on Tuesday and agreed to comply with Putin's demand that he stop releasing classified information.
Putin said on Wednesday that U.S.-Russian relations are "far more important" than the dispute over Snowden.
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