Glenn Greenwald blasted the Obama administration on Friday for charging NSA leaker Edward Snowden under the Espionage Act.
Prosecutors revealed on Friday that, Snowden, who leaked details of the NSA's government surveillance programs to Greenwald and other journalists, had been charged with unauthorized communication of national defense information, willful communication of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. The first two charges were brought under the Espionage Act. Snowden could face up to 10 years in prison for each charge, the Associated Press said.
Greenwald spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper on the phone. He said the charges were evidence of the Obama administration's hyper-aggressive approach to leaks:
"I think the key context, Anderson, is the absolutely atrocious record of the Obama administration when it comes to press freedoms and the treatment of whistleblowers and leakers. The Espionage Act is a 1917 statute that was enacted under the Woodrow administration, designed to criminalize dissent against World War I. And for that reason, it has been used a very sparingly before Barack Obama became president. Only a total of three leakers haves been prosecuted under that statute in the pre-Obama era. Under President Obama, we now have seven, more than double the number, of all previous presidents combined...And I think it is one thing to charge Snowden with crimes, but to charge him with espionage which is when somebody works for a foreign government or sells secrets, given what he did is the kind of extreme excess that the Obama administration is guilty of for years now."
Cooper also spoke to legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who has been very critical of Snowden's actions. Toobin said that the Espionage Act only required information to be "given to an unauthorized person that could be used to the injury of the United States in the words of the statute." He added that, "technically, it is possible to use the Espionage Act, but Glenn is certainly right that the Obama administration has been much more aggressive in using the Espionage Act for leaks to journalists as opposed to spying for a foreign country."