In a move that shocked those on the right and the left, President Donald Trump announced over the weekend that he is considering a pardon for Edward Snowden, Reuters reported.
Snowden is the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who revealed in 2013 that the federal government was engaging in what Reuters described as “vast domestic and international surveillance operations.”
After blowing the whistle, Snowden fled to Russia to avoid charges of criminal espionage, according to Reuters. But now, Trump has indicated that he may make a move that allows Snowden to return home without the threat of jail time.
“Many people are on his side”
According to Reuters, Trump first mentioned Snowden in an exclusive interview with the New York Post last week. Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump told the Post that he hears the concerns of those on the right and left who think Snowden was treated unfairly.
“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” the president said, according to the Post. After polling aides present for their thoughts on the matter, Trump said a pardon for the former NSA contractor is “certainly something I could look at.”
“Many people are on his side, I will say that,” Trump added, according to the Post. “I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.”
At an event in New Jersey on Saturday, Trump doubled down.
“I’m going to start looking at it,” he told reporters, according to Reuters.
The comments mark a reversal for Trump, who once called Snowden a “traitor” who should face the death penalty, the New York Post reported. But the American people remain split on the issue — and there’s no telling what Trump will ultimately decide in terms of Snowden’s fate.
Acting in America’s best interest?
In the meantime, according to Reuters, Snowden’s lawyer maintains that his client committed no crimes and that beyond a pardon, Snowden should be shielded from future charges stemming from this issue.
“He was acting not only in the interest of the American citizens, but in the interest of all the humankind,” Anatoly Kucherena said of his client, according to Reuters.
Only time will tell if that argument is enough to convince President Trump to take action.