Cruz shifts on Edward Snowden
© Getty Images

Republican presidential hopeful Ted CruzTed CruzPentagon's suppressed waste report only tip of the inefficient machine Markos Moulitsas: Kill the filibuster Ark., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test MORE on Thursday said National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is a “traitor” who should be “tried for treason,” shifting away from the praise he expressed for Snowden in 2013. 

“It is now clear that Snowden is a traitor, and he should be tried for treason,” Cruz said in a statement to The New York Times.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Today, we know that Snowden violated federal law, that his actions materially aided terrorists and enemies of the United States, and that he subsequently fled to China and Russia,” he continued. “Under the Constitution, giving aid to our enemies is treason.”

Cruz struck a different tone when Snowden first went public with classified details about NSA snooping in 2013.

“If it is the case that the federal government is seizing millions of personal records about law-abiding citizens, and if it is the case that there are minimal restrictions on accessing or reviewing those records, then I think Mr. Snowden has done a considerable public service by bringing it to light,” he said at an event hosted by The Blaze in 2013.

In his statement to The New York Times, the Texas senator pointed to additional remarks he made in 2013, saying Snowden should be prosecuted if he broke the law.

“If Mr. Snowden has violated the laws of this country, there are consequences to violating laws that is something he has publicly stated he understands, and I think the law needs to be enforced,” Cruz said at the time.

Cruz has been hit by GOP primary rival Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioHaley to meet with senators during Washington trip Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama MORE (R-Fla.) for supporting the USA Freedom Act, which curtailed U.S. intelligence-gathering capabilities in light of the Snowden revelations.

Earlier this week, Rubio slammed Cruz for commending Snowden.

"I never believed Edward Snowden was a good public servant the way that Ted Cruz once said that he had done a public service for America," Rubio said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"We cannot afford to have a commander in chief who thinks people like Edward Snowden are doing a good public service," he added.

- This story was updated on 2:08 p.m.