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US Senate weighs trade sanctions over Snowden

A bill that would impose trade sanctions on any country harboring NSA leaker Edward Snowden advanced in a Senate committee on a unanimous vote Wednesday.

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Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked top secret documents revealing a vast surveillance program by the US government to the Guardian newspaper. The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald interviewed Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong and released the video on Sunday June 10, 2013. (YouTube/Screengrab)

Legislation is moving through the Senate that calls for trade sanctions against any countries harboring National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The provision, written by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, is included in a State Department funding bill and is aimed at pressuring Russia to reject Snowden's asylum request as he awaits word in an airport there.

More from GlobalPost: 11 disturbing things Snowden has taught us (so far)

It won unanimous approval Wednesday from the Senate Appropriations Committee as an amendment to next year's $50.6 billion diplomacy and international aid bill.

"I don't know if he's getting a change of clothes. I don't know if he's going to stay in Russia forever. I don't know where he's going to go," Graham said. "But I know this: That the right thing to do is to send him back home so he can face charges for the crimes he's allegedly committed."

The provision stops well short of actually imposing sanctions.

More from GlobalPost: How Snowden might just spark a new Cold War in America's backyard

But it does require that the secretary of state consult with Congress on possible sanctions if Snowden is granted asylum.

Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have all offered Snowden asylum, but he has filed paperwork to seek temporary asylum in Russia after leaking details of the NSA's secret, sweeping surveillance programs to the media.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130725/senate-weighs-sanctions-over-snowden