Washington: Days after a US lawmaker compared Edward Snowden with Mahatma Gandhi, US President Barack Obama said the former CIA contractor who leaked to the world the secretive internet and phone surveillance programs, is not a patriot.
"I don`t think Snowden was a patriot," Obama told reporters during a White House news conference.
"The fact is that Snowden`s been charged with three felonies. If in fact he believes that what he did was right, then, like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer and make his case," he said in response to a question.
"If the concern was that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, I signed an executive order well before Snowden leaked this information that provided whistle-blower protection to the intelligence community for the first time," he argued.
"And a general impression has, I think, taken hold, not only among the American public but also around the world, that somehow we`re out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on everybody and doing what we please with it.
"Now, that`s not the case. Our laws specifically prohibit us from surveillance on US persons without a warrant. And there are whole range of safeguards that have been put in place to make sure that that basic principle is abided by," he said.
Earlier, John Lewis, a senior lawmaker from Obama`s Democratic party had compared Snowden with Mahatma Gandhi, saying the controversial whistleblower was engaged in a "non-violent" act of "civil disobedience".