Former Attorney General Eric Holder still thinks Edward Snowden should be punished for leaking classified intelligence documents that exposed the country's global surveillance programs but argued that the former National Security Agency contractor "performed a public service."
"We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made," Holder said during "The Axe Files" podcast produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and hosted by Democratic political operative David Axelrod.
"Now I would say that doing what he did — and the way he did it — was inappropriate and illegal," the former attorney general also said of Snowden.
Holder's comments did not seem to go unnoticed by Snowden who seemingly tweeted in response to Holder's interview Monday evening as well as retweet journalist Glenn Greenwald.
2013: It's treason!— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 30, 2016
2014: Maybe not, but it was reckless
2015: Still, technically it was unlawful
2016: It was a public service but
Snowden faces two counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of theft. He has said that he does not plan to return to the U.S. unless he is sure that he will face a fair trial.
"I think that he's got to make a decision. He's broken the law in my view," Holder told Axelrod in the interview. "He needs to get lawyers, come on back, and decide, see what he wants to do: Go to trial, try to cut a deal. I think there has to be a consequence for what he has done."
"But I think in deciding what an appropriate sentence should be, I think a judge could take into account the usefulness of having had that national debate," Holder added.
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