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article imageUS reacts strongly to Snowden's asylum in Russia

By Abdul Kuddus     Aug 1, 2013 in World
Moscow - The news of NSA leaker Edward Snowden getting asylum in Russia has reportedly brought US-Russian relations to their lowest point in decades.
With Moscow granting fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden temporary asylum, US lawmakers Thursday warned that the move deals a blow to US-Russia bilateral relations.
Reportedly, the high-profile fugitive received asylum for a renewable period of one year that allows him to live, work and travel in Russia.
Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who handled Snowden's asylum request announced that Snowden is allowed to move out from the transit zone where he has been staying since his arrival in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.
The US wants Snowden extradited for leaking details of its electronic surveillance programmes.
Information leaked by Mr Snowden initially surfaced in the Guardian newspaper in early June which disclosed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans and others across the globe.
Reacting to the news of Snowden leaving transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, US Sen. Robert Menendez said in a statement:
“Regardless of the fact that Russia is granting asylum for one year, this action is a setback to US-Russia relations.”
Snowden “is a fugitive who belongs in a United States courtroom, not a free man deserving of asylum in Russia.” Menendez added.
Republican Senator John McCain strongly rebuked Russia, saying Moscow’s move is "a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States."
He said:
"It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with [President Vladimir] Putin's Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for."
Despite stern warnings from American congressman, Moscow allowed Snowden into Russia. The move has reportedly given the Obama administration a good excuse to derail the bilateral summit scheduled to take place in Moscow on September 3-4.
Obama and Putin had agreed to the summit during their talks on sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on June 17.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, the U.S. is "extremely disappointed" and the decision puts cold water on law-enforcement cooperation between Moscow and Washington.
Meanwhile, after his entry into Moscow, Snowden expressed gratitude to Russia in a statement released by WikiLeaks.
"Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning. I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations."
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