Snowden asylum sets back US-Russia ties: US senator
Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is a "setback" for Washington's ties with Moscow, a top US senator warned Thursday.
"Edward Snowden is a fugitive who belongs in a United States courtroom, not a free man deserving of asylum in Russia," said Robert Menendez, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Regardless of the fact that Russia is granting asylum for one year, this action is a setback to US-Russia relations."
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, leaked details of NSA surveillance programs that scoop up vast amounts of telephone and Internet data on millions of Americans and foreigners as part of US counterterrorism efforts.
He fled US soil with NSA secrets that he divulged to the British daily the Guardian in a move several US lawmakers denounced as traitorous.
Others on Capitol Hill urged against a rush to judgment.
Menendez said Snowden's revelations "could aid terrorists and others around the world who want to do real harm to our country."
"Russia must return Snowden to face trial at home."
Republican Senator John McCain issued a stinging criticism on Twitter.
"Snowden stays in the land of transparency and human rights. Time to hit that reset button again #Russia," he wrote.
Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who partners with McCain on many foreign policy issues, warned that US efforts to reset ties are being "run over" by the latest Moscow move.
© 2013 AFP