“We need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him,” said retired senator Saxby Chambliss, who served as vice chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I hope none of you have any sympathy for him,” he told students at the Terry College of Business in Athens, Georgia.
Chambliss, who stepped down from Congress last year, made the threats against Snowden during a discussion about the recent cyber attack on the US Office of Personnel Management.
The comments reflect the animosity that many national security and intelligence officials in Washington feel toward Snowden, who sought refuge in Russia two years ago to avoid prosecution in the US over espionage charges.
Federal officials claim Snowden’s revelations about the widespread NSA spying programs have risked Americans’ lives and helped terrorists to avoid detection.
Nevertheless, civil liberties and privacy advocates have described him as a hero for exposing illegal spying activity by the US and have demanded clemency for him.
Snowden disclosed the extent of the agency’s spying activities in June 2013. He leaked classified intelligence documents showing massive collections of phone records of Americans and foreign nationals as well as political leaders around the world.
His release of NSA documents was called the most significant leak in US history by Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971, leaked the Pentagon Papers, a history of the US’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.