Australian attorney-general 'embarrassing and borderline hysterical' on Snowden: Ludlam

Australian Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has refused to back down from remarks where he labelled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a traitor who has put Australian lives at risk.

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam has labelled Australian Attorney-General Senator George Brandis as an embarrassment, following remarks from Senator Brandis where he accused Edward Snowden of endangering lives.

Following Tuesday's exchange in Senate Question Time between Senators Ludlam and Brandis, the Greens senator asked that the Senate take note of the attorney-general's remarks.

"I rise to speak on the matter of the embarrassing and borderline hysterical display just put on in this chamber by our attorney-general, the highest law officer in the land," Ludlam said.

"He was behaving like an infant; it was like having a debate with a four-year-old."

Ludlam called the discussion surrounding the extent of the NSA's surveillance, as revealed by documents leaked to the press by Snowden, as one that is "quite profound", and today saw the Obama White House release a Cybersecurity Framework . The White House is describing its framework as "a voluntary how-to guide for organizations in the critical infrastructure community to enhance their cybersecurity".

By contrast, Ludlam said Brandis had put on a completely unacceptable "infantile display".

"Senator Brandis accused Mr Edward Snowden ... of being a traitor. You could almost see the spittle flying from his lips. No evidence or justification was provided for the accusation that the revelations put into the public domain by Mr Snowden ... had created risk for Australians," he said.

"No evidence at all was provided. They said exactly the same thing about the WikiLeaks revelations."

Senator Brandis has refused to back down from the comments he made on Tuesday, with a spokesman for the attorney-general telling ZDNet that Brandis "absolutely stands by his comments".

"The attorney does not consider Snowden a hero or whistle-blower, but a traitor who has committed criminal acts and put lives at risk," the spokesman said.

"The risk has arisen in two ways: The potential for methods, sources, and intelligence officers being identified; and through terrorists and other adversaries using the material to modify techniques and communications to avoid detection and continue to plan and possibly execute a terrorist attack."

Following a parliamentary investigation into Australia's telecommunications interception and access laws last year, the attorney-general has yet to announce the government's response to the recommendations of the report. Australia's law enforcement agencies have been advocating for call records and other metadata to be retained by telecommunications companies for up to two years.