Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on CBS “This Morning” Wednesday to criticize National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, calling his actions “sad and disgraceful” hours before the airing of the former contractor’s interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams.
Appearing live from the Department of State, Kerry said Snowden “betrayed his country,” and challenged him to return to the U.S. and stand trial for leaking a cache of still-unquantified classified documents detailing secret NSA programs.
“He should man up and come back to the United States if he has a complaint about what’s the matter with American surveillance,” Kerry said. “Come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case.”
Instead, alleged Kerry, Snowden has fled to “an authoritarian country [Russia] where he has taken refuge,” to take “pot shots at his country.”
“The fact is he has damaged his country, very significantly, in many, many ways,” Kerry said. “He has hurt operational security, he has told terrorists what they can now do to be able to avoid detection, and I find it sad and disgraceful.”
In an early excerpt from the interview aired Tuesday, Snowden dismissed government claims describing him as a low-level operative, analyst or hacker, and said he was “trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense.” Kerry reduced Snowden’s argument to semantics, and said the leaker’s description of his former job was nothing new.
“It’s the same disclosure that everybody’s known,” Kerry said. “You know, he very cleverly wraps it into his language about ‘I was a technical person, I didn’t go out there and work with humans, with other people, I wasn’t working and interacting with human beings.’ Basically, he was doing his computer stuff and that’s exactly what he said. So he wraps it into this larger language.”
The NBC interview, which is Snowden’s first on a U.S. television network, airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.