Chuck Schumer: Putin is ‘aiding and abetting Snowden’s escape’

June 23, 2013

The Senate's third-ranking Democrat on Sunday sharply criticized Russia for Edward Snowden's departure from Hong Kong and reported travel to Moscow.

"What's really infuriating is Prime Minister [Vladimir] Putin of Russia aiding and abetting Snowden's escape," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on CNN's "State of the Union." The Democrat said he believes it is likely Putin approved of Snowden's trip.

Schumer also blamed Chinese authorities for allowing Snowden, who recently revealed information about sweeping U.S. surveillance efforts, to leave Hong Kong. The U.S. asked Hong Kong to extradite Snowden, but the government there said that documents from the U.S. government requesting a warrant for Snowden's arrest “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.” And so it has asked the United States to provide “additional information.”

"I have a feeling a hand in Beijing was involved here," Schumer said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said he doesn't have any information about whether Putin knew about Snowden's trip, but that it "wouldn't surprise" him if the Russian leader did.

"Russia is a country that wants to get back on the world stage," Rogers said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "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. This shouldn't surprise us. They have a very aggressive intelligence operation in United States. I'm sure they would love to have a little bit of coffee and a few conversations with Mr. Snowden."

Updated at 1:08 p.m.

Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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Sean Sullivan | June 23, 2013