The Verdict is Out: Will Putin Gift Snowden to Our New President?
By: Anthony Russo
Edward Snowden worked for the CIA until he leaked classified files that were disclosed to the NSA. In June of 2013, it was publicly announced that Snowden leaked NSA files to journalists, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who were investigating invasion of privacy imposed by our government.
Shortly after leaking the documents, Snowden fled to Russia where he remains today. Some argue Snowden is a hero, others insist he is a traitor.
According to the Espionage Act under the United States Code, Snowden faces two charges. Section 793(d) is a violation claiming Snowden committed “unauthorized communication of national defense information”. 798(a)(3) states Snowden’s “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person”. There is an additional “theft of government property” charge which falls under section 641 of the U.S.C.
Snowden can face a minimum of 30 years in prison.
November of 2016, Snowden tried to convince President Obama to pardon him just before his final term ended. President Obama responded to Snowden’s plea in an exclusive interview with German public broadcaster, Der Spiegel, saying “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”
Although President Obama denied Snowden, he has responded differently in the past concerning other pardons before the end of his term, specifically with Chelsea Manning.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on similar charges to Snowden, which would fall under violation of the Espionage Act.
Manning received a pardon because unlike Snowden, she faced trial and sentencing on American soil.
President Trump has been vocal about the issue, stating that he isn’t on Snowden’s side. He has attacked Snowden, calling him a “traitor” and “disgrace” in various interviews and on his official Twitter account.
On July 9 2015, journalist Anderson Cooper of CNN sat down with Trump to discuss Snowden. As Trump has emphasized throughout his presidential campaign, he would like to ease the tension with Russia by having Vladimir Putin become an ally of the United States.
In Trump’s interview with Cooper, he said that Putin has no respect for Obama and is allowing Snowden to stay in Russia out of spite.
Trump continued, “If I’m President, Putin says, ‘Hey, boom, you’re gone,’” when referring to sending Snowden back to the United States.
On February 10 2017, just weeks into Trump’s presidency, NBC confirmed that Russia will consider sending Snowden to the United States as a gift to Trump.
It is unclear whether or not Trump plans to lessen his demands for Snowden, but if Russia agrees to send him back to the U.S., it could help ease tensions between the two countries.