The US on Wednesday dismissed the call for boycotting the 2014 Olympics in Russia if Moscow grants asylum to former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, and said it is focussed on getting the fugitive intelligence leaker back.
"Yeah" White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news briefing when repeatedly pressed if the call being made by Senators and Congressman to boycott the Olympics in Russia is a bad idea.
"We're not focussed on that (boycotting the Olympics). We're focussed on working with the Russians to bring about the return of Snowden to the United States," he said.
Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham has earlier said that if Russia grants asylum to Snowden, the US should consider keeping its athletes home during the 2014 Winter Olympics next February in Sochi, Russia.
The White House Press Secretary, however, asserted to work with Russia to bring the National Security Agency leaker back to the US.
"Our view is that we're continuing to work with the Russian government and other nations on this matter. And we hope to see Snowden returned to the United States," he said. "I'm not going to engage in speculation about that, and the Olympics are a long way off. We believe that we have a strong case and we have made that case to Russia.
"We share (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin's views expressed again that we don't want this matter to do harm to our bilateral relations.
"We have a very important and broad relationship with Russia that encompasses a great many areas of cooperation, as well as some areas of disagreement," he said.
"It is a broad and important relationship and we want to continue to see that relationship strengthen. And we share President Putin's views that this does not need to and should not do any harm to those relations," Carney said.
He said Snowden will be afforded all of the rights and privileges of defendants.
"And we believe that there's ample legal justification for his return," he asserted.
Snowden, who leaked details about US intelligence surveillance of Internet activity, yesterday applied for asylum in Russia after being stranded at the Moscow airport for three weeks.