Schieffer: ‘Putin Has Adopted A Hugo Chavez Mentality’

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Longtime CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer is comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin to former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez after Russia granted temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Speaking on “CBS This Morning,” Schieffer believes that Russia is trying to torment the United States by allowing Snowden to stay in the country after he was holed up in a Moscow airport’s transit .

“It’s almost as if Putin now has adopted a Hugo Chavez sort of mentality,” Schieffer said. “We’ll just keep poking our finger in the eye of the giant to show everybody we’re big and tough.”

Before his death this past March, Chavez would frequently criticize the United States and its policies.

Russia agreed to give Snowden one-year asylum after he fled Hong Kong on June 23 fearing the country would extradite him back to the U.S. Snowden leaked to the media information revealing that the NSA was gathering millions of U.S. phone records and intercepting some U.S. Internet traffic.

During Wednesday’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney said Russia did not tell U.S. officials ahead of time that they were offering asylum to Snowden.

Carney said the White House is “extremely disappointed” in Russia’s decision and that they are re-evaluating whether a planned summit between President Barack Obama and Putin this fall should still occur.

The U.S. has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage, but Putin dismissed the request. With Snowden granted amnesty, he legally cannot be handed over to U.S. authorities.

Schieffer called the situation a “high school scenario.”

“There are so many things the United States and Russia could be working on together,” Schieffer said, adding that Russia “doesn’t have a lot going for it these days.”

Snowden’s lawyer says his client “is in a safe place” but that his location will remain a secret for security reasons.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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