Whistleblower Edward Snowden said in an interview with Yahoo News that there's a double-standard between high-ranking government elites and lower-level government employees when it comes to revealing state secrets.
A clip of the interview can be seen below.
Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who fled the United States just before he divulged evidence of the U.S. government conducting mass surveillance programs on its own citizens in 2012, faces multiple felony counts for his actions. But he told Yahoo's Katie Couric that former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus did far worse and was given a slap on the wrist.
“Perhaps the best-known case in recent history here is Gen. Petraeus — who shared information that was far more highly classified than I ever did with journalists,” Snowden said. “And he shared this information not with the public for their benefit, but with his biographer and lover for personal benefit — conversations that had information, detailed information, about military special-access programs, that’s classified above top secret, conversations with the president and so on.”
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Snowden continued: “When the government came after him, they charged him with a misdemeanor. He never spent a single day in jail, despite the type of classified information he exposed.”
Petraeus, a retired four-star U.S. Army general who is rumored to be on President-elect Donald Trump's short list of potential picks for secretary of state, pleaded guilty in 2015 to giving his mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell access to classified documents.
The material “collectively contained classified information regarding the identifies of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings… and discussions with the president of the United States,” while she was writing his biography, according to the Daily Beast.
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Petraeus was the CIA's director at the time. He was eventually charged with misdemeanor level of mishandling classified material and sentenced to two years probation and a fine of $100,000, according to the Washington Post.
In the Yahoo interview, Snowden also said that the double-standard isn't just for actions pertaining to revealing state secrets, but is a problem throughout the criminal justice system.
"We have a two-tiered system of justice in the United States where people who are either well-connected to government or they have access to an incredible amount of resources, get very light punishments," Snowden said, adding that "inner-city youth" are “very much tread upon by our justice system,” according to Politico.