In a rare moment of pro-democratic, leadership, United States President Donald Trump has suggested that he will pardon the exiled, former CIA employee and whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
Snowden, who has been living in Russia since 2013, after fleeing the United States, rose to prominence after exposing the CIA’s mass surveillance program that has been gathering data on ordinary Americans, in direct violation of their constitutional rights. And the former computer security consultant also sits at the heart of a greater political discussion over privacy rights not only in the United States, but around the world.
On Sunday, Trump said that he’s “considering” giving Snowden a presidential pardon. However, in his statement yesterday, saying that he will be pardoning someone “very, very important”, he ruled Snowden and former national security adviser Michael Flynn out as candidates for the pardon which he provided no further details about.
Given that Democratic and Republican lawmakers are saying that Trump’s potential Snowden pardon would be a “a serious mistake”, there is no doubt that this is a political issue that Trump will attempt to use to his advantage ahead of November’s upcoming Presidential elections.
Last month, Trump used his executive authority to commute the sentence of longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
In defence of democratic principles, particularly freedom of speech and freedom of information, if Trump were to pardon Snowden, it would be one of the best decisions he has made throughout his term in office. And lawmakers’ opposition to the pardoning is exemplary of the rot within the system that Snowden, in part, exposed. For this, even those who despise the president must give him credit.
However, Trump’s ruling out of a Snowden pardon may have been genuine and it may well end up disappointing journalists and civilians advocating principles of free speech. The move in itself will more than likely carry political implications and be met with criticism regardless of his decision. It’s all a matter of which way Trump calculates his actions in the Snowden pardon issue will favour him the most.