Edward Snowden Must Be Pardoned
Exposing Great Crimes Is Not a Crime!
November 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Edward Snowden courageously exposed massive, illegal, and illegitimate surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). This spying operation has gathered information, on a historically unprecedented scale, on the intimate details of the lives of literally billions of people around the planet. Threatened with prosecution, death threats, and being called a traitor by officials of the country with the biggest military and repressive apparatus in history, Snowden has refused to back down. The U.S. forced him to go into exile in Russia, from where he continues to expose the dangers such surveillance poses.
Oliver Stone’s movie Snowden tells his story. Right around the time of the movie’s release this fall, three leading human rights groups in the U.S.—Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, and Amnesty International—launched a campaign demanding that President Obama pardon Snowden before he leaves office. An online petition to the White House demanding Snowden’s pardon has gathered more than 167,000 signatures. Many prominent people, including Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple; actors Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon; writers Cheryl Strayed and Joyce Carol Oates; Vietnam War era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; former government officials, and many others have backed this demand.
The Obama administration has refused to pardon Snowden and has continued to call for his return to the U.S. to face charges. In early November, Obama claimed he can’t pardon Snowden because he hasn’t yet been tried. This is a claim experts have shown to be false on legal grounds (see, for example, “Obama, Mistaken on Point re Pardon Power,” a blog post by P.S. Ruckman, political science professor). And Trump’s nominee for CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, says Snowden is a “traitor” who should be brought back from Russia to be given “due process”—and then declares the proper result of this “due process” would be Snowden’s execution! Never mind the rule of law and the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”
Snowden’s revelations put a spotlight on the criminal deeds of the U.S. spy apparatus for the whole world to see. Why does the U.S. deem it necessary to try to gather information on the patterns of movement, communication, and details of the personal lives of most of world humanity? That’s not a government that is “protecting people’s safety.” These are the actions of a global criminal enterprise defending a system of sweatshops, slums, prisons, and mass murder. And whistleblowers like Snowden who bring the crimes of the U.S. to light must be defended.
All people of conscience must oppose the U.S. persecution of Edward Snowden. The call for his pardon is a just demand, and it is part of the overall fight against this whole oppressive system.
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