Attorney General Eric Holder told MSNBC Thursday that the U.S. would “engage in conversation” with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s lawyers if he accepted responsibility for leaking top-secret documents.
But the idea of granting Snowden clemency “where we say no harm, no foul,” the attorney general said, goes “too far.”
Asked whether he considers Snowden a whistleblower, Holder said “I prefer the term defendant. That’s the most apt title.”
He made the comments in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber scheduled to air Thursday afternoon.
A spokesman for Holder clarified Wednesday afternoon that Snowden accepting responsibility would entail pleading guilty.
Meaning plead guilty MT @JesseRodriguez: Holder: US willing to ‘engage in conversation’ w/ Snowden’s lawyers if he accepts responsibility
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) January 23, 2014
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.