Written by Tharushan Fernando
15 Sep, 2016 | 9:20 am
Human Rights groups in New York, alongside Edward Snowden campaigners have launched a push for a pardon by the US president.The former contractor for the country’s National Security Agency faces prosecution for stealing classified documents. If convicted, he faces prison under the Espionage Act.
Edward Snowden has also set out the case for Barack Obama granting him a pardon before the US president leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosing the scale of surveillance by US and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off.
The U.S government has been demanding the return of Snowden from Russia to face prosecution for stealing thousands of classified intelligence documents.
Speaking via a video link from Moscow, he explained that any evaluation of the consequences of the information he leaked in 2013 would show that people had benefited.
“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,” he said.
He went on to point out that when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of the nation had changed and the [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures and at the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result.
Snowden called whistleblowing “democracy’s safeguard of last resort” . He further argued that if the Obama administration does not reverse its practice of prosecuting whistleblowers, it would leave a legacy of secrecy that is damaging to democracy.
The three largest human rights organizations in the U.S,ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, have teamed up to launch a campaign calling on President Obama to pardon the NSA whistleblower just a day after the New York premiere of Oliver Stone’s new movie, “Snowden,”
Executive Director of the ACLU,Anthony Romero, explained that Edward Snowden’s case presents one for President Obama to use the presidential power of pardon proudly and unequivocally, in recognition of one of the most important acts of whistleblowing in modern history and by standing up for the privacy rights of his fellow citizens- individuals who had no idea that the government had assumed such extraordinary and invasive powers in secret
“Edward Snowden should be thanked, and not punished.” he said
The runner-up in the race to become Democratic presidential candidate,Bernie Sanders is at the helm of a choir of prominent public figures calling for clemency, a plea agreement or, in several cases, a full pardon for the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden
The 75-year old senator argues that Snowden helped to educate the American public about how the NSA violated the constitutional rights of citizens with its mass surveillance program.
He also adds that there should be some form of resolution that would acknowledge both the “troubling revelations” that he had brought to light and the crime that he committed in doing so, that would “spare him a long prison sentence or permanent exile”.
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