A pardon for Edward Snowden

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For the second consecutive year, Edward Snowden appeared at South by South West in Austin, Texas, and once again, he was not able to attend in person. Snowden, again, appeared via internet stream, this time to a select group of people from the technology and policy world. The Verge reports, “Sunday Yokubaitis, president of online privacy company Golden Frog, described as a ‘call to arms’ for tech companies to foil spying with better privacy tools.” Adding that “Snowden said that as policy reform lagged, companies should adopt more secure technology that could block surveillance altogether or make it too difficult to pursue en masse. A big focus was end-to-end encryption, which would mean no one (including companies) could see the contents of communications except the sender and recipient.”

One topic not discussed was in regards to the former NSA contractor: the possibility of a fair trial. In early March, one of Snowden’s lawyers said, “[Edward] Snowden is ready to return to the [United] States, but on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial.” Jesselyn Radack, who also works on Snowden’s legal team, says a trial under the Espionage Act—the World War I-era law that Snowden is alleged to have violated—“would not be considered fair.” Radack reportedly said, “Snowden would be amenable to coming back to the United States for the kind of plea bargain that Gen. [David] Petraeus received.”

Patreus plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified material and will serve no jail time for his actions. Unlike Snowden, who gave classified documents about mass surveillance to members of the media; Petraeus gave classified info to his biographer and girlfriend, Paula Broadwell. Patreus then lied to the FBI about having given Broadwell access to the documents.

By contrast, Edward Snowden never lied about his actions, and even explained why he did it. We don’t yet know if Edward Snowden will ever be allowed to return to the United States, or if he will ever appear in a court. However, he should not have to appear in court, because he should be granted a full pardon.

I know that will not happen as long as Barack Obama is in the White House, because it was Obama’s Administration that sought espionage charges in the first place. Nor do I expect a Republican Presidentt to issue such a pardon either. Even the supposed libertarian Rand Paul has said that Snowden should spend “a few years in prison.”

It is clear that neither major party will do what is right, and will only serve to protect their own interests. Is it any wonder that both parties now have an approval rating below 40%?

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