The House minority whip said the former National Security Agency contractor, who fled to Russia after leaking documents about the NSA's domestic surveillance program, should expect no leniency if he were to return to the United States to face charges, the Hill reported.
"We cannot have people who are given secret clearances going to foreign governments -- particularly hostile governments -- and exposing information that could prove fatal to people, but also could prove very harmful to the interests of the United States," Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol.
Hoyer said Snowden forfeited any expectation of special treatment when he left the country.
"Has Snowden raised serious questions? He has. Is there going to be debate about those serious questions? There will be. Is there concern about the role that the National Security Agency plays in terms of the collection of information? There is. Should all of that be considered? It will be," Hoyer said.
"But I don't think that Snowden can be exculpated from the actions that he took, clearly in violation of law and violation of his oath when he received secrecy clearances. o do so would encourage others to [leak similar documents] with perhaps even more devastating consequences."
Snowden is lauded by many as a whistle-blower who put the country before himself.
"Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight," the New York Times wrote in a recent editorial. "He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community."
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