Pardon Snowden? Jimmy Carter weighs in

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Former President Jimmy Carter (D) would consider pardoning National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, were he to be tried and convicted, he said on Wednesday.

“If he decided to come back to the United States and face the actual violations of law that he perpetuated and was found guilty by a 12-person jury and then was sentenced to death, I would certainly consider a pardon,” Carter said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post.

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Snowden, who has been charged with two counts of espionage and theft of government property, is not currently eligible for pardon, Carter said, since, “You can’t pardon someone who hasn’t been tried and convicted.”

The former agency contractor has sought asylum in Russia for the last nine months.

The Obama administration has said it would not pursue the death penalty against Snowden were he to return to the United States.

Carter has been a vocal critic of the NSA, and recently said that he sends mail via the postal service instead of through emails, since he suspects the spy agency might be snooping on him.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander has denied that the spy agency has any interest in the former president.

“We’re not” tracking him, Alexander said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. If the NSA were snooping on Carter, he added, that would be “illegal.”

This week, the White House will formally reveal a proposal to end the NSA’s bulk collection of records from people’s phone calls, which was seen as the most controversial of the efforts revealed in documents Snowden leaked.

The plan would, instead, have private phone companies keep the records and allow the NSA to search for specific information with a court order.