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Last Updated:
07/11/23 6:12AM

Pardon Edward Snowden

Allow Edward Snowden to return home.

Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, is known for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. He argued that his actions were justified on the basis of exposing unlawful surveillance activities conducted by the US government.

Allow Edward Snowden to return home. Since he was forced to leave his home, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional.

To learn more about the reasons for this proposal and the history behind it, we recommend reading through the published Issue.

Bullet Points
  • Government transparency: Pardoning Edward Snowden would send a strong message about the importance of government transparency and accountability. It would recognize the value of whistleblowers in exposing misconduct and promoting open and honest governance.
  • Protection of civil liberties: Snowden's disclosures revealed mass surveillance programs that infringed upon the privacy and civil liberties of millions of individuals. Pardoning him would demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding constitutional rights and protecting citizens from unwarranted government intrusion.
  • Whistleblower protection: Pardoning Snowden would establish a precedent for protecting whistleblowers who expose illegal or unethical activities within government agencies. It would encourage others to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing, knowing that they may receive fair treatment and legal protection.
  • Public interest and awareness: Snowden's actions brought to light the extent of government surveillance programs, sparking important public debates about privacy, security, and the balance between national security and civil liberties. Pardoning him would acknowledge the significance of these revelations and the need for informed discussions on surveillance practices.
  • Human rights advocacy: Snowden's disclosures raised awareness about global surveillance practices and their impact on human rights. Pardoning him would demonstrate a commitment to defending human rights, both domestically and internationally, and could bolster the United States' credibility in advocating for privacy and freedom of expression globally.
  • Fair treatment and due process: Snowden currently faces charges under the Espionage Act, which could result in a lengthy prison sentence. Pardoning him would ensure that he receives fair treatment and due process, considering the circumstances of his actions and the public interest served by his disclosures.
  • Encouraging responsible whistleblowing: Pardoning Snowden would encourage individuals to come forward with evidence of government misconduct through proper channels, rather than resorting to unauthorized disclosures. It would promote a culture that values accountability and responsible whistleblowing within government institutions.
  • International relations: Snowden's disclosures strained diplomatic relationships, particularly with countries affected by the surveillance programs. Pardoning him could help repair trust and improve international cooperation in addressing global challenges, such as cybersecurity and privacy protection.
  • Reevaluation of surveillance programs: Snowden's revelations prompted a reevaluation of surveillance practices and led to some reforms, such as the USA Freedom Act. Pardoning him would provide an opportunity for a comprehensive review of surveillance programs to ensure they are conducted in a lawful, transparent, and accountable manner.
  • Symbolic gesture of justice: Pardoning Snowden would be seen as a symbolic act of justice, recognizing the public service nature of his disclosures and the broader societal impact of his actions. It would serve as a reminder of the importance of holding those in power accountable and fostering a culture of transparency and integrity within government institutions.
Legal Arguments
  • Public Interest and Whistleblower Protections: Snowden has argued that his disclosures were driven by a desire to inform the public about the extent of government surveillance and the potential violations of privacy rights. He claims that he acted as a whistleblower, exposing illegal activities and unconstitutional surveillance practices. Whistleblower protections, he argues, should shield individuals who expose government misconduct.
  • Fourth Amendment Violations: Snowden asserts that the mass surveillance programs conducted by the NSA, such as the collection of phone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. He argues that the indiscriminate gathering of personal data without a warrant or reasonable suspicion amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure, infringing upon individuals' right to privacy.
  • Unconstitutional Interpretation of Laws: Snowden contends that the US government has misinterpreted certain laws, such as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), to justify mass surveillance. He argues that the government's broad interpretation exceeds the intent and scope of these laws, leading to the violation of constitutional rights.
  • Lack of Adequate Oversight: Another argument made by Snowden is that the intelligence community lacks sufficient oversight and accountability. He claims that the secretive nature of intelligence agencies, coupled with the lack of effective checks and balances, creates an environment ripe for abuse and overreach. He suggests that his disclosures were necessary to prompt a public debate and demand more robust oversight mechanisms.
  • Protection of Human Rights: Snowden has framed his actions as a defense of human rights and privacy. He argues that privacy is a fundamental right, essential to democratic societies. By exposing the surveillance programs, he sought to protect individuals' rights to freedom of expression, association, and privacy, as enshrined in international human rights instruments.
Legal Cases
  1. Chelsea Manning: Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, leaked classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. She was charged under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017, reducing her sentence to the time she had already served.

  2. Samuel Morison: Samuel Morison, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted in 1985 under the Espionage Act for providing classified photographs of a Soviet nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the British publication Jane's Defence Weekly. He was sentenced to two years in prison but was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.