Some public officials might be softening on Edward Snowden, but not House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer.
At his weekly briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning, the Maryland Democrat said he didn't believe that Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked to the press sensitive information about the organization's surveillance programs, should receive any reprieve should he wish to return to the United States.
Snowden is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum.
"Ellsberg didn't go to the Russians, he didn't go to the Chinese," Hoyer said of Daniel Ellsberg, a U.S. military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. "Mr. Snowden chose to expose very, very critical information to the world and I think he needs to come back and answer to those consequences."
"Think the consequences might be different than they would have been six months ago ... I think we cannot have people who are doing secret clearances go to foreign governments, particularly hostile governments, and exposing information ... Has Snowden raised serious questions? He has. Are there going to be debates about those serious questions? There will be. Are there concerns about the role that the National Security Agency plays in terms of collecting information? There is. Will all that be considered? It will be. But I don't think Snowden can be exculpated from the actions that he took clearly in violation of the law and in violation of his oath [and] security clearances ... To do so would encourage others to do similar, perhaps with even more devastating consequences."