Sunday, 16 August 2020

Trump says he will 'look very strongly' at pardoning Edward Snowden after previously calling him a 'traitor' who should be 'executed'

Donald Trump on Saturday said that he was 'very strongly' considering pardoning Edward Snowden - the former CIA employee who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency.
In his strongest indication yet that the 37-year-old could be coming home from exile in Russia, Trump said at a press conference held at his Bedminster golf course that he was weighing up Snowden's fate. 
'I'm going to take a look at that very strongly,' he said. 
Snowden's revelations triggered a debate over government eavesdropping, with some hailing him as a hero and others calling him a traitor.
Trump said he is 'not that aware of the Snowden situation,' but that people on both the left and the right are divided over the former contractor.
'It seems to be a split decision,' he said. 
Donald Trump, pictured speaking on Saturday at Bedminster, is considering a pardon
Donald Trump, pictured speaking on Saturday at Bedminster, is considering a pardon
Trump says he's considering pardon for NSA leaker Edward Snowden
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'Many people think he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.'
The president had raised the issue earlier in the week, telling The New York Post on Thursday that he had heard the leaker was being 'persecuted'. 

'There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,' Trump told the publication. 
'I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now?… 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.'  
Trump then asked aides who were present during his interview with The Post for their opinions on Snowden.
He then added: 'I've heard it both ways. From traitor to he's being, you know, persecuted. I've heard it both ways.'
Snowden, pictured speaking during a 2019 web summit, has been in exile in Russia since 2013
Snowden, pictured speaking during a 2019 web summit, has been in exile in Russia since 2013
President Trump appears to have softened his views on Edward Snowden - the former CIA employee who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency
Snowden is pictured in Moscow, Russia in 2013. He is still living in exile
President Trump appears to have softened his views on Edward Snowden - the former CIA employee who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency
Trump polled his aides as to their opinion on Snowden during the interview on Thursday
Trump polled his aides as to their opinion on Snowden during the interview on Thursday 
CIA Director blasts WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden
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In 2013, Snowden shared thousands of classified documents with journalists, prompting the US government to charge him with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property.  
The Hawaiian-based whistleblower worked for the CIA and NSA for several years and  says he concluded that both agencies had 'hacked the constitution' with extensive government surveillance, putting everyone's liberty at risk and forcing his hand to leak the information to the media.   
Snowden's decision to go public with the information set off a global debate about government surveillance, put in place by intelligence agencies in a perceived bid to avoid a similar attack to 9/11 from happening ever again.
He has been living in exile in Russia since he leaked the documents.  
However, last year, Snowden said his 'ultimate goal' was actually to return home to the US.
Though he said any such return would be dependent on the US government offering him a fair trial, something he says officials have 'refused to guarantee'.
'But 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.'
Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor who leaked details of a classified mass surveillance program in 2013, has been living in self-imposed exile in Moscow for seven years
Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor who leaked details of a classified mass surveillance program in 2013, has been living in self-imposed exile in Moscow for seven years
Snowden said a fair trial won't be possible as the government won't allow him to take a public interest defense.
'I'm not asking for a parade. I'm not asking for a pardon. I'm not asking for a pass. What I'm asking for is a fair trial,' he said. 
Critics have repeatedly reminded him that by leaking the classified documents he broke both federal law and the oath he took when he joined the NSA. 
Last year, he published an autobiography, titled Permanent Record. 
The day after its publication, the US Department of Justice filed a two-count civil lawsuit against Snowden 'alleging he had breached nondisclosure agreements signed with the U.S. federal government'.

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