US senators urge new G20 venue if Russia shelters Snowden
Two US senators introduced a resolution Friday seeking a change of location for September's G20 summit in St. Petersburg if Moscow allows intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to remain in Russia.
The resolution by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chuck Schumer urges Russia to turn Snowden over to the United States so he can face espionage charges.
It also calls on President Barack Obama to recommend a new host city for the summit of the G20 group of emerging and advanced nations if Moscow fails to act.
Snowden has been on the run since last month after divulging details of National Security Agency surveillance programs that scoop up vast amounts of telephone and Internet data from millions of Americans and foreigners.
He has been stranded in a Moscow airport since his US passport was revoked, and he has asked Russia for temporary asylum.
"On multiple fronts, Russia is becoming one of the bad actors in the world," Graham said in a statement, citing Russia's "cover to the Iranian nuclear program" and its sale of weapons to Syria.
"For Russia to grant temporary asylum to Mr. Snowden on top of all this would do serious damage to our relationship. It is past time we send a strong message to President (Vladimir) Putin about Russia's actions."
Earlier this week Graham suggested that the United States boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi if Moscow gives Snowden asylum.
G20 finance ministers and central bankers were meeting in Moscow Friday and Saturday in one of the group's major gatherings before the leaders' summit, scheduled for September 5-6 in St. Petersburg.
© 2013 AFP