Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, on Tuesday declared whistleblower Edward Snowden a "criminal" for apparently seeking out employment with a government contractor to gain access to classified information that he later leaked to the press.
Snowden, who remains on the run after revealing that the National Security Agency was collecting phone and email records of millions of Americans, told an English-language newspaper in China that he applied for a job at Booz Allen Hamilton specifically so he could learn more about the NSA surveillance programs.
"He had criminal intent in my view," Hoyer, D-Md., said.
Hoyer isn't the first lawmaker to insinuate the leaker broke the law. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told the leftist Netroots Conference that Snowden "did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents," a statement that was quickly met with boos from the liberal crowd.
Snowden, who has been charged with espionage, left Hong Kong for Russia, though he has requested asylum in several countries.
Hoyer was coy about whether Congress may pursue legislation that would change the way the federal government and private contractors award security clearances to employees like Snowden.
"Every government needs to keep secrets for security purposes, for national security defense purposes," Hoyer said. "The government needs to ensure the people it employs and does contract with understand they cannot disclose secrets."