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“In fact he caused harm to our national security and I think he has to be held accountable for his actions,” Holder told the MSNBC network.
“People have really gotten hung up over whether he is a whistle-blower or something else. From my perspective, he is a defendant.”
Holder added that Snowden had broken US law.
He said that Snowden would have to first take responsibility for leaking the classified information, plead guilty and return to the US as part of any negotiations.
But Snowden, who is wanted in the US on felony charges related to his disclosure of top-secret government information, has several times told the world press that he feels justified in disclosing how the US spies on its enemies and allies alike.
“Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public. Those who speak the truth are not committing a crime,” he told the German news magazine Der Spiegel in November.
During an interview session with international media on Twitter on Thursday, Snowden responded to a question from CNN by saying:
“Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public and myself. But it’s unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistle-blower protection laws, which through a failure in law did not cover national security contractors like myself.”
In July, the US State Department revoked Snowden’s passport, but he remains a US citizen.
Snowden, who was offered asylum in Russia after failing to secure flight elsewhere, has continued to offer sensitive intelligence data about US global espionage to London’s The Independent.
The latest revelations published in The Guardian last week reveal that the US has been collecting some 200 million text messages from around the world every day.