Appearing on CNN with host Piers Morgan on Monday, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has embarked on "a heroic effort" in telling the world about the U.S. government's spying capabilities, and warned that defending this type of unilateral, unchecked power means embracing "dictatorship" moving forward.


The 29-year-old, who fled the U.S. for Hong Kong before vanishing yesterday, donated $250 to Paul's campaign in 2012, according to The Washington Post. Snowden also told The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald he supported a third party presidential candidate, but did not specify who it was.

"He's done a great service, because he's telling the truth and this is what we are starved for," Paul said. "The American people are starved for the truth. And when you have a dictatorship or an authoritarian government, truth becomes treasonous."

"For somebody to tell the American people the truth is a heroic effort, and he knows that it's very risky," he continued. "He knows he's committing civil disobedience, and he knows that he could get punished."

Paul went on to say he believes there should be talk of penalties for officials who "destroy the Constitution."

“What should the penalty be for the people who destroy the Constitution?" he asked. "They’re always worrying about how they’re going to destroy the American citizens who tell the truth, to let us know what’s going on. But we ask the question: what is the penalty for people who deliberately destroy the Constitution and rationalize and say, ‘Oh, we have to do it for security’? Well frankly, you end up losing -- you lose your security, and you lose your freedoms too.”

Paul's son Rand, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, similarly opposes the NSA's broad spying powers and urged his supporters on Sunday to join him in a class action lawsuit over the agency's practices.

"If the president and Congress would simply obey the fourth amendment, this new shocking revelation that the government is now spying on citizens' phone data en masse would never have happened," he wrote in an editorial published by The Guardian. "That I have to keep reintroducing the [Fourth Amendment] – and that a majority of senators keep voting against it – is a good reflection of the arrogance that dominates Washington."

This video is from CNN, aired Monday, June 10, 2013.