President Donald Trump said he would look into a pardon for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, saying he has more to learn about the case before taking action.
Snowden is now living in Russia, but said last year he would consider returning to the United States if he believed he could count on a fair trial. “Edward Snowden” is trending on Twitter after Trump said he would consider a pardon during a press conference today, Saturday, August 15, 2020.
Snowden became a controversial figure after he copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013. At that time, he was a CIA employee and subcontractor. He fled Hawaii in 2013, landing in Hong Kong after he revealed government secrets about global surveillance programs to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill. He was charged by The U.S. Department of Justice with violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.
Here’s what you need to know:
Snowden & His Wife Are Expecting a Baby & He Is Applying for Russian Citizenship
Snowden announced in October, 2020, that he and his wife, Lindsay Mills, are expecting a child. He said he is seeking citizenship in Russia to help plan a stable future for his baby. He plans to maintain his Russian citizenship and obtain a dual-citizenship.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter.
Mills shared a backlit photo on Twitter of a pregnant belly, writing, “A long time in the making: our greatest collaboration is coming soon.”
Snowden later wrote, “You made me believe in happy endings. I love you, darlin.”
President Donald Trump Said He Would ‘Look At’ Edward Snowden’s Case for a Potential Pardon
President Donald Trump said he would look at the case of Edward Snowden during a press conference today, Saturday, August 15, 2020. He conceded he did not know enough about the case to take action, but said he would look into it after he was asked about a potential pardon by a reporter.
“I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation,” Trump told reporters in a briefing Saturday. “Many people think he should be somehow treated differently and other people think he did very bad things. I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”
He polled his aides on Thursday, August 13, 2020, to determine whether he should free the NSA whistleblower and allow him to return to the United States from Russia, where he has been living for at least three years.
“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 in an interview.
“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 Biden. Biden and Obama, and they got caught spying on the campaign,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments seem to represent a possible reversal in his opinions of Snowden, who he had previously called a “traitor.” Before taking office, Trump tweeted at least 45 times describing Snowden as a traitor and called for his execution, the New York Post reported.
“Snowden is a spy who should be executed – but if it and he could reveal Obama’s records, I might become a major fan,” Trump wrote on Twitter in 2013.
Edward Snowden Is Living in Russia & Applied for An Extension of Residency in March 2020
Edward Snowden has been living in Russia for at least three years. In March 2020, he requested an extension to live in the country for an additional three years as his active permit was reaching its expiration, Russian News Agency TASS reported.
“Yes, a couple of days ago we have filed documents to extend his permit for three more years and we hope it will be satisfied,” Anatoly Kucherena told TASS. He added that there “was no discussion” about Snowden obtaining Russian citizenship, TASS reported.
His residency permit was automatically extended to June 15, 2020, due to coronavirus mitigation efforts.
“Due to anti-coronavirus measures, Snowden, just like all other residence permit holders, had this document automatically extended until June 15. Therefore, his residence permit remains valid. Later, a decision will be made about whether it should be extended by three more years upon Snowden’s request and in line with the current legislation,” a source told TASS.
Two days after the automatic extension, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced permits for residency would be extended again, this time until September 15, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council.
Snowden said on CBS This Morning last year he would return to the United States if he was sure he would receive a fair trial.
“That is the ultimate goal, but if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison then my one, bottom-line demand that we all have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial,” Snowden said, adding that the U.S. government has “refused” to guarantee one.
“They won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense,” Snowden said.
Edward Snowden Serves on the Freedom of the Press Foundation & Wrote on his Twitter Account He Works for the Public
Edward Snowden’s Twitter account said he once worked for the government, and now works for the public.
“I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. President at @FreedomofPress,” his account says.
On Friday, August 15, 2020, Snowden wrote on Twitter, “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.'”
Snowden is president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation board, according to its website.
“Today, he works on methods of enforcing human rights through the application and development of new technologies. He joined the board of Freedom of the Press Foundation in February 2014 and was named the president of the board in 2016,” the website said.
Edward Snowden joined Twitter in 2014, and at the time, he followed only one account: the NSA.
“Can you hear me now?” he wrote in his first tweet on September 29, 2015.
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