WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden a fugitive and challenged him to “man up and come back to the United States.”
Kerry was asked about Snowden in a nationally broadcast interview in the wake of an interview in which Snowden said he never intended to be holed up in Russia but was forced to go there because Washington decided to “revoke my passport.”
Asked about this, Kerry replied on NBC’s “Today” show: “Well, for a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer, after all.”
Snowden, a former NSA contract systems analyst, leaked a massive volume of NSA documents to the media.
“If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States,” Kerry said, “we’ll have him on a flight today.” Kerry said Snowden should “stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people.”
In his interview with NBC anchor Brian Williams, a portion of which was broadcast Tuesday, Snowden said he was “trained as a spy” and argued that he had a much larger role in U.S. intelligence than the government has acknowledged.
“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas,” he said.
National security adviser Susan Rice said in a CNN interview that Snowden never worked undercover.
Kerry said, “A patriot would not run away. ... He can come home but he’s a fugitive from justice.”
“Let him come back and make his case,” the secretary added. “If he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust the American system of justice.”
“I think he’s confused,” Kerry added. “I think it’s very sad. But this is a man who has done great damage to his country.”
FILE - This Thursday, June 6, 2013, file photo, shows a sign outside the National Security Administration campus in Fort Meade, Md. The U.S. government is close to ending the NSA’s nationwide bulk collection of American phone records with an overwhelming House vote that is the most significant demonstration to date of leaker Edward Snowden’s impact on the debate over privacy versus security. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)