Aug 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr says he's "vehemently opposed" to pardoning Edward Snowden


Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr told the AP on Friday that he is "vehemently opposed" to pardoning Edward Snowden.

Why it matters: Barr's comments come just days after President Trump said he would "look at" pardoning Snowden, who was charged under the Espionage Act in 2013 for leaking highly classified information on government surveillance programs.

  • It remains unclear how serious Trump was about considering a pardon for the former NSA contractor. Ultimately, the power to issue a pardon or commutation for Snowden would lie with Trump.
  • Prior to his election, Trump called Snowden a "traitor" and a "spy who should be executed."

What he's saying: Barr called Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia, a "traitor" and said "the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people."

  • "He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that."

The big picture: Several top Republicans have also warned Trump against pardoning Snowden.

The other side: Snowden maintains that in working for the NSA and CIA, he concluded that the U.S. intelligence community had "hacked the Constitution."

  • He told "Axios on HBO" last year that "it was a difficult thing to come forward."
  • He added that he gave up a well-paying government job "spying on you" to never return home to see his family.
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