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Barr opposes possible Trump pardon for Snowden

Barr opposes possible Trump pardon for Snowden
© Washington Post

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Steele dossier source insists he is not Russian agent: 'It's slander' Voting rights group files suit against Trump, administration officials alleging voter intimidation 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 John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida 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: Armed Services chairman unsold on slashing defense budget | Democratic Senate report details 'damage, chaos' of Trump foreign policy | Administration approves .8B Taiwan arms sales Democratic House chairman trusts Pentagon won't follow 'unlawful orders' on election involvement Democratic chairman 'unconvinced' by arguments to slash defense budget, but open to debate MORE (D-Wash.) and ranking member Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Armed Services chairman unsold on slashing defense budget | Democratic Senate report details 'damage, chaos' of Trump foreign policy | Administration approves .8B Taiwan arms sales Chamber of Commerce endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress Overnight Defense: Senate passes stopgap spending bill hours before shutdown deadline | Brief military mentions in chaotic first Trump, Biden debate | Lawmakers grills Pentagon officials over Germany drawdown 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.