posted at 3:01 pm on September 13, 2016 by John Sexton
Edward Snowden is making the case for President Obama to offer him a pardon a few days before a new film about him opens in U.S. theaters. From the Guardian:
The US whistleblower’s comments, made in an interview with the Guardian, came as supporters, including his US lawyer, stepped up a campaign for a presidential pardon. Snowden is wanted in the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act and faces at least 30 years in jail.
Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited.
“Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things,” he said.
At least one high profile former member of the Obama administration believes Snowden did the U.S. a favor. In May, from Attorney General Eric Holder told David Axelrod, “We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” From CNN’s report in May:
“He harmed American interests,” said Holder, who was at the helm of the Justice Department when Snowden leaked U.S. surveillance secrets. “I know there are ways in which certain of our agents were put at risk, relationships with other countries were harmed, our ability to keep the American people safe was compromised. There were all kinds of re-dos that had to be put in place as a result of what he did, and while those things were being done we were blind in certain really critical areas. So what he did was not without consequence.”…
“I think that he’s got to make a decision. He’s broken the law in my view. He needs to get lawyers, come on back, and decide, see what he wants to do: Go to trial, try to cut a deal. I think there has to be a consequence for what he has done.”
“But,” Holder emphasized, “I think in deciding what an appropriate sentence should be, I think a judge could take into account the usefulness of having had that national debate.”
Monday, Fusion reported that the ACLU, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were starting a signature gathering campaign designed to put pressure on the president to pardon Snowden. That effort is tied to the release of a film about Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone, which opens this Friday.