House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday slammed National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s decision to leave Hong Kong for Moscow to avoid extradition to the United States.
The U.S. should use "every legal avenue" to bring Snowden back to the country and face his charges, Rogers argued on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Snowden, a former government contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, has been charged with espionage for leaking classified documents about a pair of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs. He initially traveled to Hong Kong after releasing the sensitive documents to the media, but officials in Hong Kong said Sunday that he boarded a flight to Moscow.
Snowden was able to leave Hong Kong despite facing a U.S. extradition request. Snowden's flight landed in Moscow earlier Sunday, with reports suggesting he may seek asylum in a third country, possibly Cuba or Venezuela.
"When you look at it, every one of those nations is hostile to the U.S. If you could go to North Korea and Iran, he could round out his government oppression tour," Rogers said.
The Intelligence chairman slammed Snowden for leaking the classified documents, arguing that publicly releasing this sensitive information has jeopardized national security programs and the protection of Americans.
"If you think about what he says he wants and what his actions are, it defies logic. He has taken information that does not belong to him. It belongs to the people of the United States," Rogers said. "He has jeopardized our national security."
"We have seen that bad guys, overseas terrorists that are committing and plotting attacks on the U.S. and our allies, have changed the way they operate," he said.
Rogers also said he wouldn't be "surprised" if Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin knew in advance that Edward Snowden had booked a flight to Moscow.
"It wouldn't surprise me. I don't have information to that effect," Rogers said "Putin has been playing a thorn in the world's side in Syria…they're very aggressive around the world trying to retain their influence."
"Listen, Russia is a country that wants to get back on the world stage and I don't think they really care if they do it in a way that's in the best interests of good citizenship around the world," he added. "This shouldn't surprise us."