Defense chief says Snowden leaks were 'serious security breach'

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:08pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday that intelligence leaks by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden were a serious breach that violated U.S. laws and damaged national security.

"I would hope that the Russians do the right thing here and turn Snowden over to the United States," Hagel told a Pentagon news conference, adding that Moscow evidently had not made a final decision since Snowden reportedly was still at the airport.

"He has broken laws," Hagel said. "There was damage done to this country by the Snowden leaks. We are assessing that now but make no mistake, this violation of our laws was a serious security breach."

(Reporting By David Alexander; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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