Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor and US whistleblower, just made a case for why President Obama should pardon him before leaving office.
Snowden, who is currently living in exile in Russia, is wanted in the US and faces at least 30 years in prison for allegedly violating the Espionage Act.
In an interview with Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian, Snowden was asked why he believes he deserves to be pardoned. He said,
This isn't about me, it's about us. But the public, by and large, cares about these issues far more than I anticipated... More than anything, the key here is what kind of society do we want to live in?
He went on to say he believes his decision to leak documents that revealed the NSA was collecting the communication records of millions of Americans indiscriminately and in bulk greatly benefited the American people.
In Snowden's view, what he did was a public service. He added,
If not for these disclosures, if not for these revelations, we would be worse off. Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things. I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result.
Likewise, former Attorney General Eric Holder has also argued that Snowden performed a public service by inspiring a debate over government surveillance and the balance between liberty and security.
I'm willing to make a lot of sacrifices for my country.
The ACLU and Amnesty International also recently announced they were launching a campaign to petition for the pardon of Snowden.
Regardless, it seems unlikely President Obama will pardon Snowden. As Snowden noted in his interview with The Guardian, the president has waged a war on whistleblowers throughout his tenure.
Not to mention, the White House already rejected a petition to pardon Snowden last year and said he should return home and face charges on US soil. On Monday, the White House reiterated this position.
On Friday, Oliver Stone's "Snowden," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the whistleblower, hits theaters. It's possible this could influence public opinion on the matter.
It's pretty clear Edward Snowden wants to come back to the US. What's unclear is, if this occurs, what the conditions of his return would be.