Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerForced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure MORE (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, said Sunday that Russia will face “serious consequences” if it harbors Edward Snowden, who has been charged with espionage.
“What’s infuriating here is Prime Minister [Vladimir] Putin of Russia abetting Snowden’s escape,” Schumer said in a CNN “State of the Union” interview. “I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship.”
Snowden, a former employee of Booz Allen Hamilton who leaked classified materials related to the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance operations, has been charged with several counts of espionage.
He initially fled to Hong Kong but took a flight to Moscow Sunday morning after U.S. officials requested his extradition by Hong Kong authorities.
Schumer said Putin likely approved Snowden’s flight to Russia and certainly knew of it.
“Something at this level in a state- controlled country, the minute Aeroflot got the notification he would be coming, I believe that Putin, it's almost certain he knew, and it's likely he approved it,” he said.
Schumer said if Putin protects Snowden it could affect bilateral nuclear disarmament talks and other cooperation.