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Snowden Could Be in Line for a Pardon

Trump has recommended execution before but now says his staff's advice is divided
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2020 7:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – He hears conflicting advice about whether to pardon Edward Snowden, President Trump says, saying that it "seems to be a split decision." Conceding that he's "not that aware of the Snowden situation," Trump said, "Many people think he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things." That's already a change, the New York Times reports. Before his election, Trump regularly called the former National Security Agency contractor a "spy who should be executed." Snowden has been living in Russia since seeking asylum in 2013 after he leaked classified documents about surveillance by the US government and was charged with violating the Espionage Act. The president discussed Snowden during a news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ.

Trump surveyed his staff about whether to allow Snowden to return to the US without going to prison, he told the New York Post on Thursday. "I've heard it both ways—from traitor to he’s being, you know, persecuted." He called it unfair that others, including former FBI Director James Comey and even former President Obama are free while Snowden faces charges; Trump accuses Obama of spying on his 2016 campaign. Human rights groups had urged Obama to grant Snowden a pardon. "I'm going to take a look at that very strongly," Trump said, per USA Today. After Trump raised the subject, Snowden tweeted a defense Friday. In 2016, he says, "the very same Attorney General who once charged me conceded that, on balance, my work in exposing the NSA's unconstitutional system of mass surveillance had been 'a public service.'" (Read more Edward Snowden stories.)

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