More Americans say they oppose former National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden's actions than support them, a new national poll reveals.
According to the survey released Sunday by NBC News, more than a third (34%) of respondents said they disagreed with Snowden's decision to flee the United States and release information about how the NSA collects intelligence data, while 24% said they supported him. Forty percent said they do not have an opinion.
Somewhat shockingly, given the amount of media coverage Snowden has received, more than a quarter (27%) of Americans said they were not aware of the case.
But "among those who say they’ve closely followed the story," the NBC poll found that 49% oppose Snowden’s actions and 33% support them.
The survey comes following NBC's broadcast Wednesday of Brian Williams's interview with Snowden from Russia, where he was granted asylum.
"I may have lost my ability to travel," Snowden told Williams. "But I've gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I've done the right thing, even when it was the hard thing. And I'm comfortable with that."
Snowden also said he wants to return to the United States. “I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home," he said. "I mean, I've from day one said that I'm doing this to serve my country.”
A day after the interview aired, Secretary of State John Kerry said that if Snowden wants to come back and answer U.S. espionage charges, "we'll have him on a flight today. We’d be delighted for him to come back.
"And he should come back," Kerry added. "That’s what a patriot would do. 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.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the new poll found younger Americans tend to approve of Snowden's leaking intelligence documents. Among 18-to-34-year-old respondents, 32% support Snowden, and 20% disapprove of his actions.
Factoring in the poll's margin of error (plus or minus 3.5%), the results were essentially unchanged from January, when an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 23% of Americans supported Snowden’s actions, and 38% opposed them.