Society

ACLU To Begin Campaigning For Snowden's Pardon

| by Ray Brown
Edward SnowdenEdward Snowden

The American Civil Liberties Union will join with human rights organizations to launch a campaign to urge President Barack Obama to pardon National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The new effort will coincide with the release of a Hollywood movie directed by Oliver Stone that tells the story of Snowden's career as a talented computer whiz who had a lucrative career with the NSA before deciding to go into hiding as he released records revealing the agency's widespread, warrant-less surveillance on American citizens.

"I think Oliver will do more for Snowden in two hours than his lawyers have been able to do in three years," Ben Wizner, Snowden's lawyer and director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told Motherboard.

As the “Snowden” movie brings more attention for the former NSA contractor, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, the ACLU will coordinate with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations to promote pardonsnowden.org, which is set to launch Sept. 14.

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"We are going to be doing both a mass signature campaign around the world and trying to get prominent individuals and organizations to join our call to President Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office," Wizner said.

This wouldn't be the first mass effort to urge Obama to grant clemency to Snowden. In 2015, more than 167,000 people signed a similar petition on the White House website, which gets a response from Obama if a petition reaches 100,000 signatures. When Obama responded, he refused clemency and said Snowden should be tried for his charges, for which he faces up to 30 years in prison, according to Politico.

"If [Snowden] felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and -- importantly -- accept the consequences of his actions," Obama said, according to the White House statement. "He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers -- not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions."

Although he is in asylum in Russia, Snowden communicates regularly and makes public statements via Twitter. In response to a tweet about the House Intelligence Committee having a closed meeting about Snowden's revelations, he tweeted: "How Washington works: The day before a movie premieres about them violating everyone's rights, they meet in secret."

Sources: Motherboard, The White House, PoliticoEdward Snowden/Twitter / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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