President Donald Trump said Saturday he is considering issuing a pardon for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who turned whistleblower. “I’m not that aware of the Snowden situation,” Trump told reporters on Saturday. “Many people think that he should be somehow treated differently and other people think he did very bad things.” Trump added: “I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”
Snowden shook up the intelligence community when he disclosed highly classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013. He fled to Hong Kong and later went to Russia in an effort to avoid extradition to the United States. He is still living in Russia. Trump claims he is “not that aware of the Snowden situation” but it’s the second time he has brought up the possibility of a pardon in the past few days. “There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told the New York Post earlier this week. The Post reported that Trump polled his aides on Thursday about whether Snowden should be allowed to return to the United States without going to prison.
Several Republican leaders have publicly expressed their support for a Snowden pardon. Sen. Rand Paul tweeted Friday that he was one of the people who think Snowden has not been treated fairly. Snowden “revealed that Trump-haters Clapper and Comey among others were illegally spying on Americans,” Paul wrote.
Trump’s recent statements mark a remarkable about-face considering that before he became president he frequently labeled Snowden a “traitor” and even said he “should be executed.” Snowden didn’t mention the change of heart when he tweeted about Trump’s consideration on Friday. “The last time we heard a White House considering a pardon was 2016, when the very same Attorney General who once charged me conceded that, on balance, my work in exposing the NSA’s unconstitutional system of mass surveillance had been ‘a public service’,” he wrote.
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