QUESTION: I want to talk to you about the drawdown in Afghanistan that the President announced yesterday, but let’s start with these remarks from Mr. Snowden, and actually, we have a new piece of that interview to play for you this morning. And in it, he basically lays the blame that he is in Russia right now squarely on the United States. Take a look.
QUESTION: What are you doing in Russia?
MR. SNOWDEN: All right. So this is a really fair concern. I personally am surprised that I ended up here. The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba, onwards to Latin America, and I was stopped because the United States Government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport. So when people ask, why are you in Russia, I say, please, ask the State Department.
QUESTION: Well, Mr. Secretary, what about it? Does he have a point? He’s basically saying but for the U.S. State Department revoking his passport, he wouldn’t be in Russia at all.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, for a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer, frankly. Look, I’m not going to get into the – who he was, what he was. Let me just say this: If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we’ll have him on a flight today. We’d be delighted for him to come back. And he should come back, and that’s what a patriot would do. A patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country. A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people. But he’s refused to do that to this date, at least.
The fact is that he can come home, but he’s a fugitive from justice, which is why he’s not being permitted to fly around the world. It’s that simple and he knows it.
QUESTION: Have you softened your stance at all with regard to his alleged conduct here? I noticed earlier this year you said that there were disclosures about the NSA made because of Snowden that you yourself were not aware of that constituted NSA overreach. Does that change the calculus at all for you?
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s entirely up to the justice system. Let him come back and make his case. The fact is that he should – if he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust in the American system of justice. But to be hiding in Russia, an authoritarian country, and to have just admitted that he was really trying to get to Cuba, I mean, what does that tell you, really? I think he’s confused. I think it’s very sad.
But this is a man who has done great damage to his country, violated his oath which he took when he became an employee, and yes, in fact, stole an enormous amount of information and released it to the public, to the detriment of his country.