The debate over Edward Snowden is far from over after a recent report states that the former NSA contractor who leaked confidential secrets will continue to receive asylum from Russia, despite efforts by the U.S. government to have him deported out of Russia. According to CNN, the announcement was released from head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house, the Duma, Alexey Pushkov.
Snowden expressed his desire to come back to the United States in an online chat on Jan. 23. He stated that returning would be “the best resolution for all parties” but “unfortunately it’s not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws.” Snowden even went so far as to point out the flaws in whistleblower protection laws. He elaborated: “my case clearly demonstrates the need for comprehensive whistleblower protection act reform.”
While Snowden may refer to himself as a whistleblower, Attorney General Eric Holder has a different opinion. “I prefer the term defendant,” he said. “That’s the most apt title.”
According to NBC News, U.S. officials have clearly expressed that clemency is not an option for Snowden. Holder specifically stated that clemency would be “going too far.” He later expanded upon his previous statement, saying “We’ve always indicated that the notion of clemency isn’t something we were willing to consider. Instead, were he coming back to the U.S. to enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers.”
President Obama has made it aware that Snowden must stand trial in the United States.
His views on the option of clemency for Snowden were less concrete, as he told New Yorker Magazine, “I do not have a yes/no answer on clemency for Edward Snowden. This is an active case where charges have been brought.” He later discussed Snowden and whistleblowers in his recent speech on National Security Agency reforms. He stated that those who reveal classified information are a threat to national security and the safety of the American people, according to NBC News.
The president said, “The sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come,” according to CNN.
Recent accusations have been made in Congress that Snowden was not acting alone when revealing classified information to the public, stating that he could be a spy for the Russian government. Snowden has denied these reports, and Holder did not respond to any questions regarding the allegations.
A CBS News poll revealed that most Americans, 61 percent, believe that Snowden should stand trial in the U.S., while only 23 percent believe that he should be granted amnesty. It also revealed that most Americans, 54 percent, disapprove of his actions. This percentage includes majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. According to CBS News, when Americans were asked to find a word to describe Snowden, the largest amount, around a quarter, used the word “traitor” or a word that expresses his disloyalty. A mere eight percent described him as a “hero.”
Editor’s Note: Information from NBC Nightly News, CNN, CBS Evening News and The New Yorker Magazine was used in this news report.