President Barack Obama should allow National Security whistle blower Edward Snowden to return to the United States.
Snowden worked contractually with the C.I.A. when he first ran into trouble with federal law. In 2013, the former contractor released classified information about the United States government's surveillance policies, according to The New York Times.
Using information provided by Snowden, The Guardian was able to publish a series of articles exposing the intensity and, at times, violating nature of the National security Agency’s surveillance programs.
Snowden was exiled to Russia because his actions violated the Espionage Act of 1917. This act prohibits “insulting or abusing the U.S. government, the flag, the Constitution or the military,” according to the History Channel.
If Snowden returns to the United States, he will face incredible charges.
“Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes, and it’s the policy of the administration that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face those charges,” said White House Press Secretary John Earnest.
“He, of course, will be afforded due process, and there are mechanisms in our criminal justice system to ensure that he’s treated fairly and consistent with the law. And that's what the president believes,” Earnest added, according to USA Today.
For this reason, Snowden has requested that Obama and his administration pardon him for his actions.
In a video sent from Russia, Snowden acknowledged that his actions were illegal security breaches.
Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists -- for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things.
Snowden makes a valid point. American citizens’ rights to privacy were being violated by unethical NSA practices. By revealing this information, Snowden performed a service to Americans and people around the world.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is one of the leaders in support of granting Snowden a pardon.
“The information disclosed by Edward Snowden has allowed Congress and the American people to understand the degree to which the NSA has abused its authority and violated our constitutional rights,” wrote Sanders in a statement for The Guardian.
Sanders believes that the U.S. government should treat the case with more leniency than Press Secretary Earnest suggests.
“In my view, the interests of justice would be best served if our government granted him some form of clemency or a plea agreement that would spare him a long prison sentence or permanent exile,” Sanders wrote for The Guardian.
Actress Susan Sarandon, best-selling author Barry Eisler, and Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice and Black Lives Matter activist Malika Cyril also top the list of individuals advocating for Snowden’s freedom.
Snowden’s actions served citizens positively. He should not face criminal punishment.
That being said, the Obama administration mandates a five-year waiting period before granting such pardons, according to USA Today.
The hope of justice, however, still remains for Snowden and his supporters.