By Jonathan Easley - 06/25/13 03:10 PM EDT
“I think China is enjoying this, and I know Russia is enjoying it,” he added. “It helps them in terms of what they’re doing in the world.”
Snowden’s efforts to evade U.S. authorities threaten to chill U.S. bilateral relations with China and Russia.
The 30-year-old former Booz Allen contractor, who earlier this month revealed classified documents detailing the NSA’s surveillance of phone and Internet traffic, fled from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday to avoid a U.S. extradition request. Snowden is facing federal charges on espionage and theft of government property and is waiting to hear if Ecuador will grant him political asylum.
The White House blasted China on Monday for allowing Snowden to board a plane out of Hong Kong and warned it would result in a “serious setback” in relations.
The administration has also pressed Russian authorities to expel Snowden or prevent him from leaving for a third country.
Moscow on Tuesday claimed it had no legal standing to do so and denied knowledge of Snowden’s whereabouts.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov openly rebuked the U.S. for “a conspiracy accompanied by threats against us.”
“He didn’t cross the Russian border, and we consider the attempts we are seeing to accuse the Russian side of violating United States law as completely ungrounded and unacceptable, or nearly a conspiracy accompanied by threats against us,” Lavrov said, according to reports.
Coburn on Tuesday said he agreed with the White House that China should be held responsible for allowing Snowden to leave.
“Obviously there needs to be a price paid by China for not handing him over,” he said. “It’s probably not going to be public in terms of diplomatic circles. The next time they really need something that only we can deliver, it’s probably not going to happen.”