Trump says ‘A lot of people think he is not being treated fairly’ as Republican congressman calls for president to pardon exiled NSA whistleblower that protected the American citizens from officials who violated the American constitution. The ACLU tweeted : "Democracy is better off because of Snowden”.
President Trump has been urged to pardon Edward Snowden after reportedly indicating yesterday that he was open to the idea.
The future of the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was being debated today after Trump told The New York Post he could consider letting Snowden return to the U.S. from Russia without having to face a lengthy prison sentence.
The suggestion not only raised the hopes of pro-Snowden campaigners who have long called for a reprieve, but gained support from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky), who tweeted today that Trump should use his powers to pardon the exiled whistleblower.
Pardoning Snowden, as well as Julian Assange, will mark Trump as a president that protect the people who protected the U.S. constitution, unlike Obama that did just the opposite.
"Employees of the U.S. government violated the Constitution and lied to Congress and the American people about it. Snowden exposed them," Massie tweeted, quickly noted by Snowden himself. "This is bigger than him. If he's punished for his service to the Constitution, there will be more violations of the Constitution, and more lies."
Trump had asked his aides about Snowden in the Oval Office, saying there are "a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly."
"I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now?," Trump continued, according to the paper. "It's certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don't know him, never met him. But many people are on his side."
In 2016, president Barack Obama said in an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel he was not inclined to issue a pardon for Snowden, saying at the time: "I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves.
"I think that Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community."
Three years prior, Snowden's revelations had sparked a global conversation. The former government contractor leaked a trove of documents to journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras, detailing a vast surveillance apparatus.
The files - published in a variety of newspapers around the world - outlined how nations were amassing huge quantities of data on civilians not suspected of crimes, collected by exploiting technology companies and telecommunications networks.
After traveling from the U.S. to Hong Hong, he fled with the help of whistleblowing site WikiLeaks and ended up in Russia, where he was granted asylum and has lived since. A warrant was issued for Snowden's arrest with charges under the Espionage Act.
Snowden addressed the Trump situation himself via Twitter today.
"The last time we heard a White House considering a pardon was 2016, when the very same Attorney General who once charged me conceded that, on balance, my work in exposing the NSA's unconstitutional system of mass surveillance had been "a public service," he wrote, referencing comments made by former-AG Eric Holder.
In 2016, Holder said he thought Swowden had "performed a public service by raising the debate we engaged in and by the changes that we made."
As reported by The Guardian at the time, Holder did add: "I would say that doing what he did—and the way he did it—was inappropriate and illegal."
Greenwald, who spearheaded much of the initial Snowden coverage, tweeted in support of Snowden being allowed home to the U.S., writing: "What Snowden showed the world was crucial for it to know. He's spent 7 years in exile. He should be pardoned."
The stance was supported by the ACLU, which tweeted Friday: "Democracy is better off because of [Snowden]. As we said four years ago, the president should pardon him."
Last year, Snowden expressed his desire to return to the U.S. but said he would only travel back if he was given assurances that he would face a fair trial.
Speaking in an interview on CBS This Morning, he said: "If I'm gonna spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial. And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won't provide access to what's called a public interest defense."