WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the few public officials sympathetic toward Edward Snowden, warned the national security leaker on Sunday not to cut deals or cozy up to any government at the risk of losing credibility.
"I do think, for Mr. Snowden, if he cozies up to the Russian government, it will be nothing but bad for his name in history," said Paul on CNN's "State of the Union." "If he goes to an independent third country like Iceland and if he refuses to talk to any sort of formal government about this, I think there's a chance that he'll be seen as an advocate of privacy. If he cozies up to either the Russian government, the Chinese government, or any of these governments that are perceived still as enemies of ours, I think that will be a real problem for him in history."
Paul's comments came in the midst of a hectic Sunday morning in which Snowden left Hong Kong despite requests from the U.S. Justice Department that that government turn him over for prosecution. Snowden is being charged under the Espionage Act for leaking details of U.S. intelligence operations to various news outlets, mainly the Guardian.
Hong Kong officials declined to do so, saying that the extradition request did not fully comply with its law. By the time Paul spoke to CNN, Snowden was reportedly on a plane that had just landed in Moscow. CNN was carrying a live stream of the passenger arrival area in the Moscow airport.
Paul has been one of a few public officials to praise Snowden for leaking material on the National Security Agency's surveillance operations. And despite warning Snowden not to work with the Russian or Chinese governments, Paul continued on Sunday to argue that history would judge the leaks kindly.
"I would say that Mr. Snowden hasn't lied to anyone," said Paul. "He did break his oath of office, but part of his oath of office is to the Constitution, and he believes that, when James Clapper came in March, our national director of intelligence came and lied, that he [Snowden] was simply coming forward and telling the truth that your government was lying. This is a big concern of mine, because it makes me doubt the administration and their word to us when they talk to us, because they have now admitted they will lie to us if they think it is in the name of national security."