WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden should "man up" and return to the United States to face justice for revealing US security secrets.
"This is a man who has betrayed his country," Kerry told CBS News.
"He should man up and come back to the US," Kerry said.
"The fact is, he has damaged his country very significantly. I find it sad and disgraceful," the US top diplomat said in one of a round of television appearances Wednesday.
Kerry's remarks were in response to Snowden's first television interview, broadcast by NBC, in which the technology expert recounts how he stole and leaked a trove of classified documents revealing the NSA's programme of phone and Internet surveillance.
"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas - pretending to work in a job that I'm not - and even being assigned a name that was not mine," Snowden says, in an excerpt of the interview released this week by NBC.
Snowden said he had worked covertly as "a technical expert" for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, as well as as a trainer for the Defence Intelligence Agency.
"I don't work with people. I don't recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I've done that at all levels from - from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top," he said.
Snowden, who has been charged in the United States with espionage, was granted asylum by Russia in August 2013 after shaking the American intelligence establishment to its core with a series of leaks on mass surveillance in the United States and around the world.
But he blamed his exile in Russia on the State Department which he said "decided to revoke my passport and trap me in Moscow Airport".
"So when people ask, why are you in Russia, I say, please, ask the State Department."
But Kerry hit back saying "for a supposedly smart guy, that's a pretty dumb answer, frankly".
"If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we'll have him on a flight today," Kerry told NBC.
"We'd be delighted for him to come back," Kerry said, insisting that "a patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country".
"A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people."