President Barack Obama disagrees with former Attorney General Eric Holder that Edward Snowden provided a "public service" when he leaked thousands of classified National Security Agency documents in 2013.
"The president has had the opportunity to speak on this a number of times, and I think a careful review of his public comments would indicate that he does not," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday, Politico reports.
On Monday, Holder acknowledged in a podcast for David Axelrod's "The Axe Files"
that the efforts by the former NSA contractor efforts helped foster a public debate about the role of government in surveillance.
But Earnest added that Holder was careful in noting that if Snowden returned to the United States from Russia he could face serious criminal charges, according to the report.
"He's broken the law in my view," Holder said during the podcast. "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," Holder said.
"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."
Earnest added that Holder was putting forth "the view of the administration, which is specifically that Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes, he should return to the United States, he should be afforded due process and that's essentially how the situation should be handled, but Mr. Snowden has not done so," Politico reports.
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