Senior Republican says US must 'step up efforts' to get Snowden
Representative claims Russians are “making a mockery” of US foreign policy
A handout photo of Edward Snowden, center, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, at a news conference he gave at Sheremetyevo International Airport with Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, left, in Moscow, on Friday. Photograph: Tanya Lokshina / Human Rights Watch
A key congressional Republican said on Sunday that the Obama administration must step up efforts and exert “any and all pressure” on Russia to get it to hand over Edward Snowden, the former US spy agency contractor turned fugitive leaker.
“I’m sure Russia loves this,” Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said of the Snowden drama that has opened the United States to international criticism.
Mr McCaul told Fox News Sunday that the Russians are “making a mockery” of US foreign policy, and, “I’m sure every day, they’re extracting more and more information from this man.”
Mr Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency, released previously secret documents revealing details of US telephone and internet surveillance programs as part of counterterrorism efforts.
He has been stranded at a Moscow airport since late last month. He broke three weeks of silence on Friday and said he wanted asylum in Russia until he can go to Latin America.
Washington has asked Moscow to return Mr Snowden to the United States where he is wanted on espionage charges but has not been able to get him.
Mr McCaul described the showdown as “a test of our foreign policy,” and, he said, “I would give the administration low marks for what they’ve done so far.”
“We should be putting any and all pressure we have - economic, trade,” on Russia to get Snowden, Mr McCaul said.
McCaul said that the administration has failed to develop an acceptable relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“It’s not working,” Mr McCaul said. “They’re thumbing their nose at the United States.”