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June 24th, 2013
06:06 PM ET

Columnist says he did not aid or abet NSA leaker

The Guardian newspaper columnist Glenn Greenwald was one of the two reporters who broke the story of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposing details of U.S. surveillance programs.

Greenwald has since been criticized for his relationship with Snowden. NBC News' David Gregory questioned whether Greenwald should be charged with a crime, and insinuated that he aided and abetted Snowden's leaks, and current movement.

"I didn't even know where Mr. Snowden worked or what his name was until after he was in Hong Kong with the documents," Greenwald told CNN Monday. "We had some preliminary communications with him about how to communicate, secretly, in a way that would be secure, but other than that, nothing."

The Justice Department recently labeled reporter James Rosen of Fox News “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” for encouraging his leaker to set up what he thought was a secret way to e-mail him.

"Not only did I not do more than Mr. Rosen was accused of doing by the Justice Department when he was called a co-conspirator, I did much, much less," said Greenwald.

"Anybody who wants to raise this insinuation against me ... ought to be compelled to point to specifics or point to evidence to support that accusation, because there is none," said Greenwald.

Snowden traveled from China to Russia, on Sunday, and may now move to to Ecuador via Cuba. None of these countries are beacons of human rights and freedoms.

"He's not just running around the world searching for what he thinks is a beacon of liberty. He's running around the world searching for a place that he can be free from American prosecution," said Greenwald, who said he does not know where Snowden is now.

Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department has prosecuted six cases under the Espionage Act in recent years; federal prosecutors had used the law in three cases before Obama took office.

"We do have a climate in the United States that has been created over the last five years in which leakers and whistleblowers, people who step forward to inform the public about classified information because they think it reveals wrongdoing, are treated, as this McClatchy article said, as enemies of the state, basically traitors," said Greenwald.

"They're not people who work for a foreign government, sold the information, worked at the behest of foreign governments," said Greenwald. "Just anybody who discloses anything that the government marks "classified" is deemed to be an enemy of the state and punished severely."

For our full interview with Glenn Greenwald, click on the video above.

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