Jimmy Carter has come out in support of Edward Snowden, saying the invasion of privacy the NSA whistleblower uncovered has gone too far and had become a restriction on civil rights.
Speaking at a closed-door event of the Atlantik Brucke in Atlanta, Carter railed against US intelligence services and said that the NSA domestic spying program uncovered by Snowden was "beneficial" for Americans to know about.
"America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time," the German newspaper Die Spiegel quoted the former US president as saying. There was some question on the validity of the source, however, as no American media outlets reported on the event and it was not clear where Die Spiegel got its source from.
But Jimmy Carter has been openly critical of the NSA in other settings.
"I believe the invasion of privacy has gone too far", Carter told CNN. "And I believe the secrecy around it was excessive."
In an article for The New York Times last year, Cater also warned that the United States would "forfeit its moral authority" if it continued to strip away the civil rights of its citizens.
Snowden is currently trapped in an airport in Moscow, hoping to reach one of the Latin American countries offering him asylum from prosecution in the United States. He is facing increasing pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has pressed Snowden into making a decision.
Edward Snowden has now applied for temporary asylum in Russia, but the United States has warned there could be repercussions if Russia harbors him.
Unlike George W. Bush, who has remained out of the public spotlight, and Bill Clinton, who has focused on the work of his Clinton Global Initiative, Jimmy Carter has remained an outspoken critic of many areas of the government and civic life.
In addition to offering his support for Edward Snowden, Jimmy Carter also spoke on the George Zimmerman verdict, saying jurors came to the right decision in the case.