Snowden: Petraeus Leaked 'Far More Highly Classified' Info Than I Did

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Snowden: Petraeus Leaked 'Far More Highly Classified' Info Than I Did

In exclusive interview with Yahoo! Global News, NSA whistleblower also points to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who lied to Congress, as example of two-tiered justice system

Edward Snowden speaking at the 2015 International Students for Liberty Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Former Gen. David Petraeus, who is on President-elect Donald Trump's expanding list for secretary of state, leaked "far more highly classified" than Edward Snowden did—and did so for no public benefit—yet spent no time in prison.

The points were underscored by the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower himself in a face-to-face interview in Moscow with Yahoo! Global News anchor Katie Couric, published online Monday.

The former CIA head pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2015 for leaking highly classified information, including identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, and information from conversations with the president via "black books" with his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell.

Some observers, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, have already pointed to the consequences given to Petraeus—two years' probation, fines, and no demotion—as indicative of a double standard in the justice system.

Snowden made the same point in the interview, telling Couric, "We have a two-tiered system of justice in the United States, where people who are either well-connected to government or they have access to an incredible amount of resources get very light punishments."

Take Petraeus, he said, "who shared information that was far more highly classified than I ever did with journalists."

"And he shared this information not with the public for their benefit, but with his biographer and lover for personal benefit—conversations that had information, detailed information, about military special-access programs, that's classified above top secret, conversations with the president and so on."

Snowden also took to Twitter on Sunday to back up his statements:

Another example, Snowden told Couric, is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who lied when he told Congress in 2013 that the NSA did not collect any data on millions of Americans. That was proven false by disclosures made by Snowden.

Clapper faced no charges, yet "giving false testimony to Congress under oath, as he did, is a felony," Snowden said.

Petraeus, for his part, defended his record on Sunday, telling ABC's "This Week": "five years ago I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I paid a very heavy price for it, and I've learned from it."

Snowden, meanwhile, faces charges of violating the Espionage Act and remains in Russia. A coalition of individuals and human rights organizations in September launched a pardon Snowden campaign, which states: "Thanks to his act of conscience, America's surveillance programs have been subjected to democratic scrutiny, the NSA's surveillance powers were reined in for the first time in decades, and technology companies around the world are newly invigorated to protect their customers and strengthen our communications infrastructure."

"Urge President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden, and let him come home with dignity," the campaign site reads.

Snowden, however, told Couric he's "not counting on" a pardon coming from Obama, as for the leaks, though, he said, "I would do it again."

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