Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s fate lies with the U.S. courts and Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama said Friday.
The NSA official in charge of the task force investigating Snowden’s leaks, Rick Ledgett, floated the option of granting the fugitive contractor amnesty in a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday. But Obama declined to discuss the specifics of Snowden’s case in a press conference, citing the contractor’s indictment on charges of espionage and theft of government property.
“I will leave it up to the courts and the attorney general to weigh in publicly on the specifics of Mr. Snowden’s case,” Obama told reporters.
The President acknowledged that Snowden’s leaks prompted an important debate about government surveillance, but argued those disclosures unnecessarily damaged the intelligence community as well.
“The way in which these disclosures happened have been damaging to the United States and have been damaging to our intelligence capabilities,” Obama said. “I think there was a way for us to have this conversation without that damage.”