A college chief who stood down after secretly recording a meeting with the Scottish Education Secretary did the "right thing", the First Minister said.
Kirk Ramsay resigned as the chairman of Glasgow's Stow College.
He claimed that Mike Russell had "grossly overreacted" to the situation, as he likened the Education Secretary's response to "summary justice" imposed in countries such as Syria.
It comes after the Scottish Government said at the weekend that Mr Russell "no longer had confidence" in Mr Ramsay about controversial college sector reforms which were made public.
Mr Salmond said: "The problem is that someone went into a meeting and secretly recorded it. If that had been a phone conversation, it would have been illegal. It's not illegal to take a recording device into a meeting - it is unethical, certainly.
"The events that followed, followed from that happening. It wasn't Mike Russell that put the recording device into the meeting, it was the former chairman of Stow College, and I think he's done the right thing resigning."
The First Minister added: "Mike Russell made it very clear that he had no power to remove the chairman, the chairman made his own decision. I think a lot of people would find it curious behaviour to secretly record meetings."
Mr Ramsay told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland he had apologised to Mr Russell twice.
But he stated: "There's two aspects to this, there's recording the meeting, which is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. The second thing is how did the minister respond, the phrase I used was he applied summary justice in effect. The comment I made was in the 21st century I only thought it was countries like Syria that applied summary justice, not Scotland."
He insisted: "The minister over-reacted, grossly over-reacted. The whole situation could have been defused."