The recently released biopic by Oliver Stone that is based on the actions of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, has inspired the campaign for his pardon.
This movement aims to call on President Barack Obama to pardon the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history.
The buzz surrounding the film is definitely a great aspect that Snowden supporters can leverage.
However, not everyone shares the same opinions about the NSA whistleblower.
Some individuals have been vocal about their disagreement with the campaign and feel that Edward Snowden should still face charges.
The Actions of Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden can be said to be one of the most polarizing figures in recent history.
He is the man behind what is probably the most damaging data breach to affect the United States. Snowden was a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA).
In 2013, Snowden executed the data breach after a series of communication with two reporters; Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald. He then copied NSA data to four laptops, each with a 1 TB hard drive while on duty in Hawaii.
Edward Snowden would later seek asylum in Russia after releasing over a million classified documents prompting some government officials to term it the worst data breach.
By June that year, the United States had already filed criminal charges against him under the 1917 Espionage Act.
Reasons Behind the Push for His Pardon
The Edward Snowden leaks aroused different sentiments among people from all over the world.
To understand the reasons behind the polarizing effects, one has to understand the nature of the documents he leaked.
Edward Snowden disclosed damaging details about NSA classified programs.
The two main reasons behind his support especially among the general public was the revelation of the NSA spying on American citizens and its allies.
The positive sentiments were so widespread that he was called a courageous national hero.
The civil rights groups lobbying for his pardon are in agreement that the actions of Edward Snowden were indeed acts of protection for citizen’s privacy and democracy.
They have always raised their concern about overzealous government surveillance stating that the data is not always used for national security purposes.
As such, the groups pushing for Snowden’s pardon see his actions as part of their political agendas that the Obama administration has failed to satisfactorily address.
Many people within and outside the United States were also enraged by this well-documented violation of privacy and Edward Snowden’s pardon would be a perfect reprisal. Oliver stone’s film seemed to have awakened these sentiments.
A few hours before the film screening, human rights group including the American Civil Liberties Union revealed a global petition lobbying for Snowden’s pardon.
The film actively portrays Edward Snowden as a patriot and national hero. It has been praised for dwelling more on the complexities of Snowden as a person thus shedding some light on his motivations for his actions.
Commenters including Ben Wizner, Snowden’s lawyer, state that the film may bolster the campaign for clemency as unlikely as it may seem.
Not Everyone Agrees
While the publicity surrounding the film has reignited the Edward Snowden pardon movement, there are some who bear opposing sentiments. A considerable number of people are of the opinion that he is an American traitor and should return to the US to face charges.
According to government officials including the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper and NSA deputy director, Rick Ledgett, Snowden’s indiscriminate disclosure of classified documents has made it more difficult for the government to protect US citizens.
They argue that since criminal and terrorists organizations had access to US surveillance documents, they have since reformed their tactics and this jeopardizes national security.
Also, the US House Intelligence Committee challenged this renewed efforts through a report issued in September. The report accused Edward Snowden of causing immense damage to national security and presenting false information about his background.
Although a pardon for Edward Snowden by the Obama administration looks unlikely, there seem to be some strong reasons behind the polarizing campaign. Nonetheless, he did commit crimes as stipulated by law, so the cases against him still stand.
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