Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden received bipartisan congressional condemnation for exposing massive Internet and phone-record surveillance by the NSA, but the beleaguered leaker is receiving a standing ovation from one former Republican senator.
The former senator, Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, was elected to two terms in the Senate, where he served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before voluntarily stepping down in 1990.
In a Monday email, Humphrey wished Snowden "secure asylum" and said he did "the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution," Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian reported in a blog post.
Since deciding not to seek a third term in 1990, Humphrey has since occasionally dabbled in politics, such as endorsing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
"I regard him as a courageous whistle-blower" who exposed "astonishing violations of the US Constitution," Humphrey told Greenwald in an email.
"Americans concerned about the growing arrogance of our government and its increasingly menacing nature should be working to help Mr. Snowden find asylum," Humphrey wrote to Greenwald. "Former members of Congress, especially, should step forward and speak out."
Earlier this month former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, also praised Snowden and denounced the Obama administration's attempts to capture and imprison him.
"Let the World Court prosecute Obama and Bush for the crimes and murders they've committed," Gravel told U.S. News. "From my point of view Snowden, Manning and the other whistleblowers are people who are following the law a lot more closely than the people who prosecute them.
Gravel scolded sitting senators for not releasing to the public information on the secret NSA programs themselves. The senators, unlike the 30-year-old contractor, would have been immune from prosecution because of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause.
"I object to the monumentally disproportionate campaign being waged by the U.S. Government against Edward Snowden, while no effort is being made to identify, remove from office and bring to justice those officials who have abused power, seriously and repeatedly violating the Constitution of the United States and the rights of millions of unsuspecting citizens," Humphrey told Greenwald.
Snowden thanked Humphrey in an email published by Greenwald.
"The media has distorted my actions and intentions to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations and instead focus on personalities," he wrote. "It seems they believe every modern narrative requires a bad guy. ... I will not hesitate to wear those charges of villainy for the rest of my life as a civic duty, allowing those governing few who dared not do so themselves to use me as an excuse to right these wrongs."
Snowden remains holed up in Moscow's Sheremyetevo International Airport. He has been offered asylum by Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but faces difficulty getting there without travelling through U.S. airspace and without a U.S. passport.
Read the complete emails here.