Former US Attorney General Eric Holder has admitted that whistleblower Edward Snowden performed a "public service" by opening a debate about surveillance. However, speaking to David Axelrod of CNN and Chicago Institute of Politics podcast The Axe Files, he also said Snowden still needed to face penalties for what he did.
"We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made," he said. In a 2014 interview, he was much more hardline, saying that Snowden would have to plead guilty to even consider coming home.
He added, "He's broken the law in my view. He needs to get lawyers, come on back, and decide, see what he wants to do: Go to trial, try to cut a deal. I think there has to be a consequence for what he has done. But I think in deciding what an appropriate sentence should be, I think a judge could take into account the usefulness of having had that national debate." You can listen to the full episode here.