Future Tense

White House Finally Responds to Snowden Pardon Petition

A sticker demanding asylum for Edward Snowden in Dresden, Germany in January.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Whistleblower Edward Snowden left the United States more than two years ago, and since then a petition has been circulating on WhiteHouse.gov demanding that he be pardoned. After conspicuous silence—the petition has 167,954 signatures, and all entries on the site with 100,000 or more are guaranteed a response—the administration finally posted an answer on Tuesday. It isn’t positive.

Where the petition calls for Snowden to be “issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon,” the White House response from Lisa Monaco, the president’s advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, says, “He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers.”


Monaco writes:

Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.


If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and – importantly – accept the consequences of his actions.

The Intercept points out that the petition response does not cite any specific examples of “severe consequences” caused by the disclosures. Additionally, Snowden himself did not publicly disclose anything classified, since news outlets like the Guardian and the New York Times were the entities that actually released documents and information. (Update July 28: Just to clarify, this is a popular interpretation among Snowden supporters like the Intercept, though many others view it as a stretch.)

The White House also said on Tuesday in a seperate blog post that it had “caught up” with responding to “every petition in our We the People backlog — 20 in all.”

In the case of Snowden, Monaco writes, “The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.” So, yeah, that blanket pardon seems like a no right now.