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Barr opposes possible Trump pardon for Snowden

Barr opposes possible Trump pardon for Snowden
© Washington Post

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Dept. blasts Mexico's decision to close probe of former defense minister Acting attorney general condemns Capitol riots, warns 'no tolerance' for violence at Biden inauguration Barr, White House counsel told Trump not to self-pardon: report MORE said Friday that he opposes pardoning Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower charged with espionage in 2013 after he released a trove of classified documents on U.S. surveillance programs.

At a press conference last week, President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE said that he was “looking at” pardoning Snowden. Barr told The Associated Press that he is “vehemently opposed” to such a decision. 

“There are many, many people — it seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things,” Trump said of Snowden at a news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “And I’m going to take a very good look at it.”

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Trump has previously called Snowden a "terrible threat" and a "terrible traitor."

Snowden fled the U.S. and gained asylum in Russia after releasing a cache of classified documents that exposed the wide scope of surveillance inside the U.S. intelligence community.

Trump told the New York Post in an interview earlier this month that he was looking into whether the U.S. should allow Snowden to return from Russia without going to prison. 

In September 2019, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against Snowden, alleging that his autobiography, "Permanent Record," violated a nondisclosure agreement.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Pentagon watchdog to probe extremism in US military | FBI chief warns of 'online chatter' ahead of inauguration | House conservative bloc opposes Austin waiver Conservative caucus opposes waiver for Biden's Pentagon pick 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (D-Wash.) and ranking member Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas) said in a joint statement this week that pardoning Snowden “would completely undermine this Administration’s position and mock our national security workforce who take immense caution in their work to keep us safe.”

Pardoning Snowden has also gained increasing support in the years since the leak, with a number of lawmakers and civil liberties advocates voicing approval of Trump's recent comments, arguing that Snowden exposed unconstitutional surveillance practices.