President Obama may have dismissed him as a "29-year-old hacker", but Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked information about U.S. surveillance programs, may cost Team USA a chance to go to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
At least if one politician has his way.
Senator Lindsey Graham called for a boycott of the upcoming games if Russian President Vladimir Putin grants Snowden asylum, NBC News reported.
"I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world," Graham, a South Carolina Republican., told NBC News on Tuesday. "If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that's taking it to a new level."
He argued that the Russians were using the Olympics as a propaganda platform for their support of anti-American interests.
"If you could go back in time, would you have allowed Adolf Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany? To have the propaganda coup of inviting the world into Nazi Germany and putting on a false front?" Graham reportedly said.
"I'm not saying that Russia is Nazi Germany," he added, "but I am saying that the Russian government is empowering some of the most evil, hateful people in the world."
It's doubtful that the U.S. will listen to Graham, and former Olympians were unimpressed by the suggestion.
— TimMorehouse (@TimMorehouse) July 17, 2013
Haha, really? Did he just day that??? "Lindsey Graham: U.S. Should Boycott Olympics If This Happens" - http://t.co/08P5AZvp13
— Steve Mesler (@SteveMesler) July 17, 2013
Hours after Graham's statement, the USOC issued a strongly worded statement, urging him to rethink his position.
"If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work," said USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky in a statement. "Our boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games did not contribute to a successful resolution of the underlying conflict. It did, however, deprive hundreds of American athletes, all whom had completely dedicated themselves to representing our nation at the Olympic Games, of the opportunity of a lifetime. It also deprived millions of Americans of the opportunity to take pride in the achievements of our athletes, and in their dedication and commitment, at a time when we needed it most. While we acknowledge the seriousness of the issues at hand, we strongly oppose the notion that a boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is in our country's best interests."
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