Defense Secretary Ash Carter told tech entrepreneurs on Monday that he does not condone the actions of ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, showing little appetite for a pardon before President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE takes office.
"I do not condone what Edward Snowden did," Carter said at a discussion hosted by The Atlantic at the Washington branch of 1776, an organization that supports start-up companies.
"There are 300 million of us in this country. And no one has the authority or the warrant to arrogate to him or herself the ability to use their position and their access to privileged information for their own purposes," he said.
Carter, who has been trying to build a bridge between the Pentagon and the technology community, said "there's no question" that Snowden set that relationship back.
"It created a tremendous amount of suspicion, concern and disinclination to engage," Carter said.
Snowden, who copied and leaked classified information and is living in asylum in Russia, said in September that he hoped the Obama administration would pardon him before a Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE or Donald Trump administration could take a much harsher stance.
"I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed," Snowden told The Guardian. "The Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result."
"If not for these disclosures, if not for these revelations, we would be worse off," he said.
Trump has called for Snowden's extradition back to the U.S. and execution.
"All I can say is that if I were President, Snow would have already been return to the U.S. (by their fastest jet) and with an apology!" he tweeted on June 18, 2013.
Last week, Snowden said he was not worried about Trump, adding that if he were to be killed, he would stand by the way he's lived.
Carter said Snowden's leaks also harmed the U.S.'s international relationships, as well as U.S. companies overseas.
"This is used by our competitors as a way of edging out our own innovative companies, so it's very harmful in lots of ways," he said.
"I simply have to work with that and try to build bridges back of trust and understanding and willingness to meet people half way and build that trust, and we're doing that," he said.