US President Donald Trump says he will look into the case of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. At the time, he still wanted to have him executed.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, seen here videoed joining a conference in Strasbourg in 2019 Photo: reuters
US President Donald Trump wants to consider a pardon for whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the sprawling surveillance system of American intelligence agencies seven years ago. He was not particularly familiar with the matter, "but I will look into it," Trump said Saturday (local time) in response to a question from reporters at a press conference. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, where he was stranded during his flight.
The question to Trump came after the president had already told the New York Post newspaper in a recent interview that a lot of people don’t think Snowden was handled fairly. Even now, Trump said there were differing opinions on Snowden: "Some people think he should be treated differently, others think he did very bad things."
Snowden had given several journalists a variety of confidential documents from the U.S. NSA wiretapping service in 2013. The material revealed a deep system of Internet and telecommunications surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies and their British allies. While Snowden has been charged with treason, there is also a view in the U.S. that he has done society a service.
Trump himself had called Snowden a "traitor" at the time who should be "executed." Libertarian-conservative Republicans such as Senator Rand Paul support the idea of a pardon – which probably also seems attractive to Trump because it clearly goes against the line of the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama.
The consequences of Snowden’s revelations are still having an impact today: Just a few weeks ago, the European Court of Justice for the second time overturned an agreement to transfer Europeans’ data to the U.S., saying the information was not adequately protected there.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had pardoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2017 at the end of his term. Manning had passed on diplomatic correspondence and military documents to the Wikileaks disclosure platform. A video of civilians and reporters being fired on by U.S. troops in Iraq became particularly famous.