Trump says he is considering pardon for Edward Snowden

Snowden's illegal leak of classified documents exposed the NSA spy program on Americans, and prosecutors want him extradited to the U.S. to face charges.

Published: August 16, 2020 8:05am

Updated: August 16, 2020 8:25am

President Trump once called Edward Snowden a "traitor" who should be executed but now says he is seriously considering a pardon for the former government contractor who illegally leaked classified documents exposing the National Security Agency's gathering of American phone records. 

“I’ve seen people that are very conservative and very liberal and they agree. They agree both ways,” Trump said Saturday during a press briefing on the coronavirus. “I’m going to take a look at that very strongly, Edward Snowden.”

Snowden fled America and sought asylum in Russia in 2013 after his massive leak about the NSA program touched off a debate about the balance between surveillance and privacy in America. Trump first signaled a change in heart about Snowden in an interview with the New York Post last week.

“I guess the DOJ is looking to extradite him right now? … It’s certainly something I could look at," Trump said. "Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side."

Critics, including many in the Republican Party, accuse Snowden of treason for revealing the existence of the NSA program and its tactics while civil libertarians have embraced him for exposing just how far reaching the government’s surveillance is.

Trump was harsh on Snowden before running for president in 2016, calling him a "traitor" and "a spy who should be executed." 


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