Another United States senator has said he thinks the actions of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden may constitute treason, just one day after White House officials expressed additional concern over just how much information the leaker has in his possession.
"I've been thinking about this as the story has unfolded, and at first I thought [Snowden] was trying to raise a public debate about important issues, and that maybe he's more like a whistle-blower," King said. "As it's gone on, I'm moving more and more towards the treason end of the scale. There were other ways to bring this information to light."
King, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested to The Takeaway that Snowden could have contacted elected officials with his concerns.
King told The Takeaway he is especially concerned that Snowden has traveled to China and spoken publicly about cyber security efforts. The Associated Press previously reported that Snowden told the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's English-language daily paper, that U.S. hacking targets in China include cell phone companies and universities hosting Internet traffic hubs.
According to a South China Morning Post article, Snowden sought out his job at Booz Allen to gain access to classified information. That report, King said, was part of why he changed his position on the issue.
"That sounds like treason to me," King said on Friday.
King is not the first elected official to suggest treason for Snowden.
"Edward Snowden is not a whistle-blower," Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News. "What Edward Snowden did amounts to an Act of Treason."
And shortly after the scandal came to light, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told The Hill, "I don't look at this as being a whistle-blower. I think it's an act of treason."
Others have been less harsh in their reactions to the NSA leaker.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told The Hill that Snowden “made his choice over ... the Bill of Rights,” which “is an important thing.” However, the senator declined to make a final judgment on Snowden's actions.
In the past week, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has appealed for a "brave country" to grant the whistle-blower asylum. It is believed Snowden has thousands more classified documents in his possession.