US President Obama should pardon Edward Snowden
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee supports a campaign calling US President Barack Obama to pardon Edward Snowden. He is a US whistleblower now living in Moscow because of fear of unfair prosecution in the US for revealing in June 2013 illegal surveillance programs by the US government and its allies.
The campaign was launched on 14 September 2016 by Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International. It is making the case for the pardoning of Snowden i.a. by referring to the impact of his revelations; leading to the most thorough reconsideration of US intelligence law and policy in decades. The journalists he co-operated with in exposing the mass surveillance programs have won prestigious prizes, while the corporations that were damaged by the revelations have improved the security of their products and platforms.
Even international organizations, like the United Nations and the Council of Europe, have launched new initiatives in the wake of his revelations to improve protection of digital privacy.
According to Amnesty International:
“When Edward Snowden shared US intelligence documents with journalists in June 2013, he revealed the shocking extent of global mass surveillance. He showed how governments were secretly scooping up huge chunks of our personal communications, including private emails, phone locations, web histories and so much more. All without our consent.”
The campaign letter, directed to president Obama, underlines that:
“Edward Snowden shared US intelligence documents with journalists in 2013, [because] he … believed that the government and citizens of his country – and the world – needed to confront the truth. That truth was the existence of a global mass surveillance system deployed by governments to spy on our personal communications, including private emails, phone locations, web histories and more.
In choosing to share this information, Edward Snowden prompted a global debate, changing laws and helping to protect our privacy. For the first time in nearly 40 years, the USA passed laws to restrict government surveillance. Globally, technology companies including Apple and WhatsApp, are now doing more to protect our personal information.
None of this would have happened without Edward Snowden. Former US Attorney General Eric Holder admitted that Snowden “performed a public service”. Even you, Mr President, have said that this debate about surveillance “will make us stronger”. And yet, Edward Snowden still faces decades in prison under laws that equate whistleblowing in the public interest with selling secrets to enemies of the USA.
I am confident that history will remember Edward Snowden for the reforms he helped bring about. But there is no need to wait for history’s judgement.
President Obama, I call on you to pardon Edward Snowden, a whistleblower who acted solely in the public interest. ”
You may sign the campaign at the webpage of Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/edward-snowden-hero-not-traitor/
Some of the arguments in the case are discussed by Amnesty International:
Human Rights Watch argues for pardoning Snowden: https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/13/us-obama-should-pardon-edward-snowden
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on national security and access to information: http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=20190&lang=en
PACE also adopted a resolution on protection of whistleblowers, including an appeal to US authorities “to allow Mr Edward Snowden to return without fear of criminal prosecution under conditions that would not allow him to raise the public interest defence”: http://semantic-pace.net/tools/pdf.aspx?doc=aHR0cDovL2Fzc2VtYmx5LmNvZS5pbnQvbncveG1sL1hSZWYvWDJILURXLWV4dHIuYXNwP2ZpbGVpZD0yMTkzMSZsYW5nPUVO&xsl=aHR0cDovL3NlbWFudGljcGFjZS5uZXQvWHNsdC9QZGYvWFJlZi1XRC1BVC1YTUwyUERGLnhzbA==&xsltparams=ZmlsZWlkPTIxOTMx