WASHINGTON -- The top member of the House Homeland Security Committee said on Sunday that he believes Edward Snowden was “cultivated by a foreign power” to obtain and leak sensitive national security information.
Appearing on ABC’s "This Week," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) refused to say which country he believed cultivated Snowden as a mole. But in his interview, he suggested that Russia was behind it all.
From the show’s transcript:
MCCAUL: Hey, listen, I don't think Snowden -- Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself. I think he was helped by others.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Russians?
MCCAUL: You know, to say definitively, I can't -- I can't answer that.
But I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did. And he -- I would submit, again, that he's not a hero by any stretch. He's a traitor. He -- he lives not very far down the street from where I am right now, enjoying probably less freedoms today here in Russia than he had in the United States of America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a pretty serious charge, sir.
Which foreign power do you believe cultivated Edward Snowden?
MCCAUL: Again, I can't give a definitive statement on that. I -- but I've been given all the evidence, I know Mike Rogers has access to, you know, that I've seen that I don't think he was acting alone.
Charges like these have been levied at Snowden since he first identified himself as the leaker of National Security Agency data. And usually, the accusations are accompanied by the argument that he wouldn’t have sought (and been granted) asylum in Russia if he wasn’t working for that country’s government.
To which Snowden and his defenders quickly note that he hasn’t given his files to the Russians and that he would love to leave the country (Brazil is another place he has petitioned for asylum) but the United States revoked his passport.
UPDATE: 11:20 a.m. -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, did not rule out the idea that Snowden was working on behalf of the Russians during an interview on "Meet The Press."
“He may well have,” she said, “we don’t know at this stage.”
She and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, both said they were investigating whether Snowden was linked to the Russian government.