(CNN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is harming his county’s relationship with the United States by allowing NSA leaker Edward Snowden to land in Moscow, Sen. Chuck Schumer charged on Sunday.
The New York Democrat also suggested China’s leadership had influenced Hong Kong’s decision to allow Snowden to leave there, despite his outstanding espionage charges from the United States.
“I have a feeling the hand of Beijing was involved here,” Schumer told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What's infuriating here is … Putin of Russia aiding and abetting Snowden's escape. The bottom line is very simple. Allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States.”
Snowden - who leaked information about top secret government surveillance programs - left Hong Kong on Sunday "through a lawful and normal channel," the Hong Kong government said. He later touched down in Moscow, according to WikiLeaks, which helped him leave Hong Kong, though Russia was not expected to be his final destination.
The U.S. had initially asked Hong Kong to extradite Snowden, and a Justice Department spokesman said Sunday it would continue working to have Snowden returned to the United States.
On CNN, Schumer claimed Putin - who has also opposed U.S. actions in Syria - was continuing an anti-United States streak that could damage the two countries’ relationship.
“Very few are the areas in which he does cooperate these days,” Schumer said of Putin, who he suggested had personally approved Snowden’s landing in Moscow. “I think this action, Putin allowing Snowden to land in Russia and then go somewhere else, is going to have serious consequences for the U.S.-Russian relationship.”