US threatens sanctions against Snowden protectors

A US Senate panel has voted unanimously to push for trade sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The 30-member Senate Appropriations Committee wants Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with congressional committees to come up with sanctions against any country that takes Snowden in.

They claim that Snowden is a spy and not a whistleblower who showed that the US was slurping data on its own citizens and snooping on its allies.

Snowden is still holed up in a Moscow airport where he had fled to escape capture and trial in the United States.

He has asked for temporary asylum in Russia until he can reach a country that will shelter him.

Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered sanctuary to Snowden. It is just the small matter of getting him there first.

But the US wants to make sure that those nations are aware that they will not be able to peddle their goods to the US if that happens. It is not clear if they will be banning the export to those nations of iconic goods such as Coke, Pepsi and Apple iPhones.

Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham told Reuters that the move was to attract the attention of any country which considers granting Snowden safe harbour.

Graham does not seem to care that much about hacking off Moscow.

Graham went on to bang the drum about Russia by shouting about Moscow allying with Iran and Moscow’s support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Graham so far has suggested the US consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

While Moscow might not be too bothered about US sanctions, the US has a number of programs that provide international trade benefits to developing countries, including Bolivia and Venezuela.

The country also has a free trade agreement with Nicaragua that could come under scrutiny.