National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden said he regards the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private email system as a "problem."
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Snowden suggested that Clinton should have known better how to properly handle classified information as secretary of state, according to excerpts released Thursday.
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"This is a problem because anyone who has the clearances that the secretary of state has, or the director of any top-level agency has, knows how classified information should be handled," Snowden explained.
The former NSA subcontractor, who fled the United States more than two years ago after exposing the government agency’s surveillance programs, said that any "ordinary" State Department employee would likely face criminal prosecution for sending classified information over a private email system unauthorized by the federal government.
"If an ordinary worker at the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency […] were sending details about the security of embassies, which is alleged to be in her email, meetings with private government officials, foreign government officials and the statements that were made to them in confidence over unclassified email systems, they would not only lose their jobs and lose their clearance, they would very likely face prosecution for it," Snowden asserted.
Th FBI is investigating the security of Clinton’s private server, which she was forced to hand over to the Justice Department amid the probe.
The inspector general of the intelligence community has determined that no less than two emails held on Clinton’s system contain "top secret" information, and hundreds more have been flagged for possibly containing classified material.
Nevertheless, Clinton has repeatedly insisted that she did not knowingly send or receive classified information on her personal email account while at the State Department.
Snowden also broached the topic of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has in the past described the NSA leaker as a "total traitor."
"It’s very difficult to respond in a serious way to any statement that’s made by Donald Trump," Snowden quipped.