US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has described the leaks as gravely damaging and inquiries are under way by the Justice Department and the intelligence community.
While Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Dianne Feinstein branded the leak an “act of treason,” White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to say whether Obama saw Snowden as a traitor.
“I won’t characterize him or his status. We believe it is the appropriate posture to take to let the investigation move forward,” Carney said.
Snowden, a technician working for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, traveled from Hawaii to Hong Kong on May 20 with a cache of secrets harvested from NSA servers, according to the Guardian.
He gave a video interview to the Guardian in a hotel to explain his motives, but has since checked out and his wherabouts are a mystery.
Snowden told the Guardian he could not “allow the US government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”