Pompeo compares ex-security advisor John Bolton to Edward Snowden

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a briefing at the State Department in Washington June 11, 2020. — Reuters pic
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a briefing at the State Department in Washington June 11, 2020. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, June 23 — John Bolton's explosive tell-all account of his time as National Security Advisor is comparable to Edward Snowden's disclosure of state-backed mass surveillance of US citizens, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday.

Pompeo's comments come the night before the release of Bolton's book The Room Where It Happened, which contains many damning allegations against President Donald Trump.

“Frankly, the information he has released puts criminal liability squarely on him,” the top US diplomat told Fox News.

“We all saw what's happened when people leak classified information like Edward Snowden. What John Bolton did here is not dissimilar to that,” Pompeo said.

Edward Snowden is a former US intelligence contractor who revealed in 2013 that US agents from the National Security Agency (NSA) were carrying out widespread surveillance on citizens.

Snowden has been living in exile in Russia since his revelation. He has been charged in the US with espionage and theft of state secrets and faces up to 30 years in prison.

“This kind of information getting out, it presents real risk and real harm to the United States of America,” Pompeo added.

Bolton's book is an account of his 17 months serving as National Security Advisor.

The book contends that Trump is not “fit for office” and describes the president “pleading” with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping to help boost his chances of re-election in November.

Over the past few days, Trump and his team, including Pompeo, have vacillated between two courses of action: Denouncing the book as “fiction,” but also claiming it is full of highly sensitive, classified information.

The White House had sought to halt the book's publication, but a US judge refused Saturday to block its release, saying it was too late for a restraining order. — AFP

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