Edward J. Snowden urged President Trump late Friday to grant pardons to other people charged under the U.S. Espionage Act in light of recently learning he could potentially receive one himself.
Mr. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who admittedly leaked classified material to the media in 2013, told MSNBC he was surprised when the president recently said he might be pardoned.
“By hook or by crook, there’s been nothing. No contact, anything like that,” Mr. Snowden said on the cable news show while being interviewed remotely from Moscow, Russia, where he lives.
Mr. Snowden, 37, has been charged with theft and violations of the Espionage Act for leaking classified documents he obtained as a contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA.
He was abroad when he revealed himself in 2013 to be the source of leaked NSA documents recently published by the press about the agency’s surveillance abilities. He received temporary asylum by Russia after being charged by the Justice Department and has lived there legally ever since. The charges against him have not yet been tried in a U.S. court.
Despite previously calling him a “traitor” deserving of execution, Mr. Trump said last month that he is “going to take a very good look” at the possibility of pardoning Mr. Snowden.
“A pardon is not something that you accept or reject, and it certainly shouldn’t be used as a political tool,” Mr. Snowden said on MSNBC. “And this is why, while I haven’t asked for a pardon from the president, I will ask for a pardon for others.”
Mr. Snowden subsequently proceeded to name three other people charged under the Espionage Act in connection with classified documents that were leaked to same news site, The Intercept.
“He 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,” said Mr. Snowden.
“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,” Mr. Snowden added.
Winner, a 28-year-old Air Force veteran and former NSA contractor, is currently serving a 63-month prison sentence for leaking a classified report about Russians interfering in the 2016 race, and Albury, a former FBI agent, is serving four years in federal prison for leaking secret agency guidelines. Each was charged under the Espionage Act and later pleaded guilty.
Mr. Hale, a former NSA analyst, has pleaded not guilty to charges involving secret drone warfare documents leaked to The Intercept. His trial is currently set to start Dec. 1.
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