Trump considers pardon for NSA leaker Snowden as Cheney condemns idea
President Trump has said he will consider a pardon for national security leaker Edward Snowden, now in exile in Russia, and allow him to return to the United States without serving prison time.
“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told the New York Post last week in an exclusive interview.
Trump cited his own experience under the Justice Department and the Obama administration spying on his campaign as informing his thinking.
“When you look at [former FBI Director James] Comey and [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan — and, excuse me, the man that sat at this desk, President Obama, got caught spying on my campaign with [former Vice President Joe] Biden. Biden and Obama, and they got caught spying on the campaign,” Trump said.
But Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who often clashes with Trump, condemned the idea of a Snowden pardon, calling it “unconscionable” and saying Snowden is a traitor.
“He is responsible for the largest and most damaging release of classified info in US history. He handed over US secrets to Russian and Chinese intelligence putting our troops and our nation at risk,” said Chaney via Twitter.
Chaney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Chaney under President George W Bush. Snowden released documents that showed U.S. officials under the Bush and Obama administrations engaged in a secret surveillance program that often targeted U.S. citizens in violation of U.S. law.
“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” said Snowden at the time. “I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
Both the Bush and Obama administrations denied that they violated the civil liberties of citizens under the program.
Far from drawing definitive conclusions, Trump, who previously declared Snowden “a traitor,” said he was simply trying to make sure that justice prevailed in any event.
“I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now?” Trump told the New York Post. “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.”
“Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told RIA news agency the United States should not simply pardon him but should drop all possible prosecutions against Snowden as he had not committed any crimes,” reports the Associated Press.
“He was acting not only in the interest of the American citizens, but in the interest of all the humankind,” Kucherena said.
PHOTO: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images
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