By Bradford Richardson
Hillary Clinton says National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden should return to America to answer for his actions.
Asked at a town hall in New Hampshire on Friday whether Snowden is a “patriot” or a “traitor” for revealing classified government data, Clinton said she was suspicious of his motives.
“Because he took valuable information and went first to China and then is now under the protection of Vladimir Putin, I think that raises a lot of questions about everything else he did,” Clinton said. “So I do not think he should escape having to return and answer for what he has done.
“I think we need to continue the balance on civil liberties, privacy, and security — it’s always a challenge,” she added.
The Democratic presidential front-runner said Snowden could have come out publicly with his information and been protected under whistleblower laws.
“I firmly believe that he could have gone public and released the information about the collection of information on Americans under whistleblower protection, and he could have done it within the tradition in our country that shields people who come forth acting out of conscience to present information they believe the public should have,” Clinton said.
Clinton, who resigned as secretary of State months before Snowden leaked information in 2013, added that she does not know why he took additional U.S. intelligence that had nothing to do with threats to American civil liberties.
She questioned Snowden’s decision to “steal a lot of information that by any definition had nothing to do with American civil rights, liberties, and privacy, but instead were about terrorists and what other nations, just to name two, Russia and China, do to try to gather information about us and what our government tries to do to prevent that and to try to get information about them.”
Snowden fled the United States after the 2013 leak and was granted asylum in Russia, where he currently resides.
The Department of Justice has charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.