Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who shared NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's story and exposed the extent of America's domestic surveillance techniques, said people who have begun to criticize Snowden often aren't looking at the full picture.
"The debate about his motives has always confounded me," Greenwald said in an interview with Glenn Beck Friday. "Put yourself in his place, where you decided you would take tens of thousands of top secret documents from one of the most secretive agencies of world's most powerful government because you think there's serious wrongdoing that has been hidden from your fellow citizens. Think about what you could do with that material."
Greenwald said Snowden could have secretly sold the information to "pretty much any intelligence agency on the planet" and made himself rich for the rest of his life. He also could have put all of the information on the Internet "if his goal was to have this indiscriminate publication and harm the country."
"He didn't do that either. Instead, he did exactly what you would want a whistleblower in that circumstance to do, which is to meet with journalists who work with some of the largest news outlets in the west and say, 'I am giving you this material ... based on promise that you will be extremely meticulous about going through every word of it and not publishing anything that can harm people, but instead only things necessary to inform the public debate,'" Greenwald continued.
FILE - A Sunday, June 9, 2013, file photo provided by The Guardian newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the U.S. National Security Agency, in Hong Kong. A report that revealed the massive U.S. government surveillance effort is among the top finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. The stories were based on thousands of documents handed over by Snowden. The reports were published by Barton Gellman of The Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill of The Guardian. (AP Photo/The Guardian, File) AP Photo/The Guardian, File
Beck's co-host Pat Gray said he agrees with Snowden's initial decisions, but now believes the whistleblower is becoming "a little too cozy" with the Russians.
"Edward Snowden didn't decide to be in Russia. He didn't want to be in Russia," Greenwald said. "He was actually flying through Russia on his way to Latin America, where he intended to seek asylum, knowing the Obama administration would put him in prison for the rest of his life. And like most rational people, he didn't want to be in prison for the rest of his life for being a whistleblower."
Greenwald said Snowden's passport was revoked on a plane from Hong Kong to Russia, so he "couldn't physically leave there, which is why he was trapped in the international zone of the Moscow airport for five weeks."
"The reality right now is the Russian government is the one thing standing between him and an American cage for the rest of his life," Greenwald said. "So I think it's easy for us to say he should stand up and denounce Putin more aggressively, but he's been put in a difficult position."
But Greenwald said there is "zero evidence that he gave a word or a piece of paper to the Russian government."
"And why would he?" Greenwald concluded. "Why would he unravel his life and risk going to prison to stop mass surveillance in the United States, only to help the Russian government figure things out? That's not what he has done."
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