Sen. Lindsey Graham: Boycott 2014 Olympics If Russia Grants Snowden Asylum

Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013 06:18 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia if Edward Snowden received asylum from that country.

“I would,” the South Carolina Republican told The Hill. "I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them.

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"It might help, because what they're doing is outrageous," Graham added. "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, 30, is charged with espionage for leaking details about National Security Agency programs that collected information on millions of Americans’ telephone calls and Internet activity.

He officially filed a request for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday, pledging to honor Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands that he stop leaking information that could damage the United States, the Hill reports.

Snowden has been holed up for weeks in Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the first U.S. senator to tie the Olympics to Snowden, the Hill reports.

While other Capitol Hill lawmakers have suggested that Obama respond strongly if Russia grants asylum, many were reluctant to suggest an Olympic boycott.

"There’s many things we can do, but I think the experience of canceling the Olympics the last time around wasn't very good," Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who also sits on the Armed Services Committee, told the Hill.

Both the U.S. and Soviet Union boycotted the Olympics in the 1980s. President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980 over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Four years later, the Soviets boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which is on Russia’s Black Sea coast near the border with Georgia. The Games are to begin on Feb. 7.

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