Senate Panel: Sanction Whoever Takes Snowden

Tens of Billions of Dollars in Russia Trade at Risk

The Senate Appropriations Committee has unanimously adopted an amendment to a future spending bill that orders Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with them to put together sanctions against whichever country whistleblower Edward Snowden happens to be in at any given time.

Right now that means Russia, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) says that’s the goal, accusing them of “allying with Iran” and demanding harsh US moves. The US and Russia engaged in roughly $40 billion in trade in 2012, and are on track for a similar amount this year.

But Russia may well not be Snowden’s final destination, and the fact that he is stuck there is primarily a function of US policy, and not Russian policy. Snowden has offers of asylum from three nations already, but can’t get there because US pressure has kept him from being able to fly over Europe.

Russian officials have likened Snowden to an “unwanted present,” saying that the US revoked his travel documents when he got to Moscow and effectively marooned him there, in the international section of the airport. Snowden is now seeking temporary asylum within Russia until he can make other travel arrangements, and Russia seems inclined to support him given the US bellicosity toward whistleblowers lately.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of