By Justin Sink - 06/11/13 01:15 PM EDT
The former Republican presidential candidate said in a statement Snowden had "done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret."
Campaign finance reports indicated that Snowden twice donated $250 to Paul's 2012 presidential effort.
The relatively laudatory statements from the Paul family stand in stark contrast to establishment figures in Congress, who have called for a swift prosecution of Snowden. Both Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have called the defense contractor a "traitor."
Rand Paul said Tuesday he also could not advise Snowden one way or another about whether to turn himself in to American authorities. Snowden was last seen at a hotel in Hong Kong, but has since disappeared.
"He’s chosen exile, which is a pretty significant thing to have to leave your family and your country," Paul said. "But what I would say is that the issue really is about privacy, the right to privacy, and whether the president’s a hypocrite for wanting to look at all of our phone records all of the time and I think he really is."