Secretary of State John Kerry chided National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden on Wednesday, telling him he “should man up and come back to the United States.”
Kerry’s comments came as Snowden’s extensive interview with NBC’s Brian Williams is set to air Wednesday night. Kerry was asked about an excerpt from the interview in which Snowden said he was trained by the U.S. government as a “spy,” something that countered the Obama administration’s previous assertions he was a low-level analyst.
Kerry dismissed Snowden’s comments as twisting language, and he criticised Snowden for seeking asylum in “authoritarian” Russia.
“If he has a complaint about what’s wrong with American surveillance, come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case,” Kerry said.
“But instead he’s just sitting there taking pot shots at his country, violating his oath that he took when he took on the job he took, and betraying, I think, the fundamental agreement that he entered into when he became an employee. The fact is he has damaged his country very significantly, in many, many ways. 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.”
Snowden also said he never intended to end up Russia, but was forced to go there because Washington decided to “revoke my passport.”
Kerry, who was participating in a round of interviews ahead of President Barack Obama’s foreign-policy commencement speech Wednesday at West Point, told NBC’s “Today” show that Snowden’s answer was “dumb.”
“Well, for a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer,” Kerry said.
“Look, I’m not going to get into the who he was, what he was. Let me just say this: If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we’ll have him on a flight today. We’d be delighted for him to come back. And he should.”
The clip of Kerry on CBS is below:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.