(CNN) – Rep. Peter King said Tuesday night that journalists tied to leaks involving classified programs should be punished along with those who leaked the information.
"If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think actions should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude," King told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
A New York Republican, King leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism.
His comments come as many in his party have sharply criticized the Department of Justice for seeking a search warrant of a Fox News reporter's emails and phone records following his involvement with a 2009 leak case.
"There is an obligation both moral, but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security," he said. "As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years a number of reporters who have been prosecuted under (the Espionage Act)."
After King's interview, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald responded skeptically on Twitter.
Is is true, as I was just told, that Peter King on CNN called for criminal prosecution of journalists reporting the NSA stories?—
Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 12, 2013
As for the National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, King said there's no doubt he should face charges.
"I think what he's done has been incredible damage to our country. It's going to put American lives at risk," he said.
The congressman did not provide specific examples of how the leaked information damages national security, but argued that it helps enemies of the United States.
"Al Qaeda and its allies now know with great exactitude exactly what we're doing," he said, "and how we're doing it."