By Jennifer Martinez - 06/23/13 05:37 PM EDT
Video comments begin at 1:47.
The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald slammed NBC's "Meet the Press" host David Gregory on Sunday for asking whether he should be charged with a crime for "aiding and abetting" former government contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information to him about the National Security Agency's surveillance operations.
"To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?" Gregory asked on the news show.
"I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I've aided and abetted him in any way," Greenwald responded, speaking via video satellite from Brazil.
"The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources," he continued. "If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal."
Gregory said lawmakers had raised the same questions.
"Well, the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regards to what you're doing. And of course anybody who's watching this understands I was asking a question, that question has been raised by lawmakers, as well," Gregory said in a raised voice. "I'm not embracing anything. But obviously, I take your point."
The exchange between the two didn't end there. Greenwald then took to Twitter to ask: "Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?"
After he wrapped up a roundtable panel with lawmakers, Gregory took a moment on the show to respond to Greenwald's tweet.
"I want to directly take that on because this is the problem from somebody who claims that he's a journalist, who would object to a journalist raising questions, which is not actually embracing any particular point of view. And that's part of the tactics of the debate here when, in fact, lawmakers have questioned him," Gregory said.
"There's a question about his role in this, The Guardian's role in all of this. It is actually part of the debate, rather than going after the questioner, he could take on the issues," Gregory added. "And he had an opportunity to do that here on 'Meet the Press.'"
The exchange between Gregory and Greenwald came as Snowden, who has been charged with espionage left Hong Kong, where he faced an extradition request from U.S. authorities, for Moscow. Reports said the leaker is en route to Ecuador where the government said Sunday he had sought political asylum.
The flared exchange between the Gregory and Greenwald sparked a flood of comments on Twitter.
Jeff Jarvis, a blogger for Buzzmachine.com and professor at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, tweeted: "If ever there was a moment when the press showed itself too close to government, it was David Gregory's attack on @ggreenwald."
Later, Greenwald tweeted: "Has David Gregory ever publicly wondered if powerful DC officials should be prosecuted for things like illegal spying & lying to Congress?"