BOSTON (AP) - A former U.S. Republican senator from New Hampshire is praising Edward Snowden for "doing the right thing" in an email exchange with the former intelligence contractor who exposed secrets about U.S. government surveillance programs.
Gordon Humphrey, a two-term senator who left Capitol Hill in 1990, described Snowden as "a courageous whistleblower" in email correspondence published Tuesday by the Guardian newspaper.
"Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution," Humphrey, 72, wrote to Snowden this week.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Humphrey said he was not expecting the emails to be published. But now, he's using the flurry of attention to rally public opinion - and other public officials - behind Snowden.
"I'm trying to rally former members of Congress," he said Tuesday evening. "I just started today. It's kind of slow going."
Snowden has been charged with spying and theft of government property after releasing details about a broad U.S. intelligence program to monitor Internet and telephone activity to ferret out terror plots. He has spent the past three weeks in the Moscow airport transit zone.
On Tuesday, he submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia, his lawyer said, claiming he faces persecution from the U.S. government and could face torture or death.
The Guardian also published Snowden's personal response to Humphrey, which Humphrey later confirmed as accurate: "Thank you for your words of support," Snowden wrote. "I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles - the actions I've taken would not have been necessary."
Humphrey said that he found Snowden's email address on the Internet and was surprised the communication wasn't intercepted by authorities.
"I wish you well in your efforts to secure asylum and encourage you to persevere," Humphrey wrote to Snowden.