US President Donald Trump wants to examine a pardon for the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who seven years ago revealed the sprawling surveillance system of American secret services. Although he is not particularly familiar with the matter, “but I will look at it,” said Trump on Saturday (local time) in response to a question from reporters at a press conference.
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“Some think he should be treated differently”
The question to Trump arose after the President had already given a recent interview with the newspaper New York Post had said a lot of people felt that Snowden had not been treated fairly. Even now, Trump said there were different opinions about Snowden: “Some people think he should be treated differently, others think he did very bad things.”
In 2013, Snowden gave several journalists a large number of confidential documents from the American interception service NSA. The material revealed an in-depth system of internet and telecommunications surveillance by US intelligence agencies and their British allies. While Snowden has been charged with betrayal of secrets, there is also an opinion in the US that he did society a service. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, where he was stranded while fleeing.
Edward Snowden responded to a corresponding media report on Twitter with a reminder that his pardon had already been discussed in 2016 (then under the administration of President Obama). Snowden’s revelations about the NSA activities had been recognized by then Attorney General Eric Holder as “service to the public”, but he did not comply with official channels and may therefore be held accountable.
Consequences of the NSA scandal to this day
The consequences of Snowden’s revelations continue to have an impact today: just a few weeks ago, the European Court of Justice conceded an agreement for the second time to transfer data from Europeans to the USA because the information was not sufficiently protected there.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama pardoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning at the end of his term in 2017. Manning had passed on diplomatic correspondence and military documents to the Wikileaks disclosure platform. A video of US troops shooting at civilians and reporters in Iraq became particularly popular.