US whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks during a live broadcast at the CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, on March 18, 2015.
Ole Spata—picture-alliance/dpa/AP
May 30, 2016 1:54 PM EDT

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says fugitive leaker Edward Snowden performed a “public service” but still deserves to be punished.

“We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made,” Holder told former Obama White House adviser David Axelrod on an episode of “The Axes Files” podcast released Monday.

But the former attorney general was quick to add that Snowden — who leaked explosive documents about American government surveillance programs while…

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