Friday on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour,” Edward Snowden, the so-called NSA whistleblower, reacted to comments from President Donald Trump about a possible pardon for his alleged violations of the Espionage Act.
Snowden, who has been in Russia avoiding prosecution for the alleged violations of law, said although there was an effort to seek a pardon from former President Barack Obama, there had not been one with Trump.
“I had not, and this is something people have actually forgotten,” he said. “There was a pardon campaign back during the Obama administration, but I at no point actually asked for pardon myself, while it’s tremendously gratifying to have this level of support. But as I said, my condition for return is simply a fair trial. Now, we didn’t see the Obama administration talking about a pardon in this way, and I think Trump has commented again since then that he thought, you know, treatment was very unfair or could be. And there’s been a lot of speculation that’s come from this, but there’s been no contact. I was as surprised as anybody else to see this. But it’s very interesting to see this president thinking about, you know, pardoning what a lot of people would consider one of the big names in this new war on whistleblowers, and that’s something that I think we should all support seeing come to an end.”
“By hook or by crook, there’s been nothing,” Snowden added. “No contact, anything like that. I think if that were happening, it would be certainly news that we’d probably hear through one of the channels.”
Snowden said he would not “lavish” Trump with praise for a pardon.
“I don’t think a pardon is or should be conditioned on anything,” he said. “When you look at the pardon power, it’s constitutionally derived. I think it’s Article II, Section 2. A pardon is not a contract. A pardon is not something that you accept or reject, and it certainly should be used as a political tool. And this is why, while I haven’t asked for a pardon from the president, I will ask for a pardon for others. Now, when I mentioned the war on whistleblowers, this is an ongoing and continuing thing. The reason pardon is even being considered, even being debated, the fact that comments from the attorney general are even hitting the news is because everyone who’s followed these cases know being charged under the Espionage Act as a whistleblower means no fair trial is permitted. And there are people in the United States today serving time in prison for doing the right thing.”
“And this is why we should see Donald Trump or any president end the war on whistleblowers,” Snowden continued. “1He should pardon reality winner for trying to expose election interference. He should pardon Daniel Hale for revealing abuses in the drone program, or Terry Albury for trying to expose systematic racism within the FBI. And these are all people who are deserving of pardon. But this — when we look at pardon, pardon is intended to ameliorate unfairness, to fix fundamental flaws in our system of laws or the way they are being applied. And there is nowhere this is more clear right now than in the prosecution of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act.”
Snowden also downplayed the possibility Russian President Vladimir Putin would intervene on his behalf to get a pardon from Trump.
“I really doubt that,” Snowden said when asked about the possibility. “You know, I’m not even sure the Russian president remembers that I exist at this point. And, honestly, from my perspective, that’s for the best. But you mentioned, you know, it’s such a staggering return on investment. And when we look at this day in history, September 11th, this is a reminder of the fact. I was on Ft. Meade outside the NSA on 9/11. I tell the story in my book ‘Permanent Record.'”
“And one of the sad, sad lessons, the tragedies of that day is not only what happened that day but what has happened in the decades since,” he continued. “And whether you’re talking about disinformation and divide in the United States or whether you’re talking about a system of endless wars where we send more and more of our people and our treasure overseas to be buried in a hole, no one can do as much damage to us as our own domestic discontent. And this is why resilience is so key. Terrorists can’t defeat this country. You know, foreign Facebook posts, they cannot destroy our elections. Only we can by playing into it.”
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