Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents, may find it even more difficult to find a country willing to give him asylum if a recently introduced bill passes the Senate, the Associated Press reports.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a bill that would force the State Department and lawmakers to set penalties against any nation that would harbor Snowden and prevent him from being extradited to the United States to face trial. The measure was approved unanimously by a voice vote as a rider attached to the $50.6 billion diplomacy and international aid bill, according to the Associated Press.
The amendment will allow the U.S. to take punitive action against countries aiding Snowden. The penalties could include "revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences," according to RIA Novosti.
Snowden is currently stuck in the transit section of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport with no travel documents. His U.S. passport has been revoked and the travel documents he had obtained from Ecuador's embassy were never officially approved. Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia until he can find a country that will shelter him permanently; Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia have offered to do so.
"I don't know if he's getting a change of clothes. I don't know if he's going to stay in Russia forever. I don't know where he's going to go," Graham told the Associated Press. "But I know this: That the right thing to do is to send him back home so he can face charges for the crimes he's allegedly committed."
This is not the first time that Graham has suggested punitive actions against countries aiding Snowden; Graham called for the U.S. to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi if Snowden is granted asylum in Russia. Graham has also urged the President Barack Obama to find a new site for the upcoming G20 Summit scheduled to be in St. Petersburg, according to RIA Novosti.
Snowden's predicament is one of many issues that led to relations between Russia and the U.S. being as tense as they have been since the end of the Cold War. Equally vexing to the U.S. has been Russia's use of veto power on the United Nations Security Council to prevent placing sanctions on Iran's nuclear program and Russia's support of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, according to USA Today.