The United States government formally charged whistleblower Edward Snowden in June of 2013 after he leaked information about the NSA’s PRISM Surveillance program, proving American citizens were — and still are — being spied on by their own government. The former CIA contractor was granted asylum in Russia, where he still lives in an undisclosed location, facing charges of theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Motherboard reports Snowden is about to see a huge push for support on Wednesday, when “the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other prominent human rights organizations will launch a formal campaign asking President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden for revealing the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs.”
The campaign was arranged to launch just two days before Oliver Stone’s Snowden hits theaters. Stone believes the movie will help people understand the severity of the federal government’s invasion of privacy.
“Seeing NSA agents use dramatized versions of PRISM, which could pull private data directly from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, and several other major tech companies, and X-Keyscore, a sort of hybrid search/spy engine for people, is far more visceral for most people than reading another Glenn Greenwald scoop or Snowden interview,” Motherboard noted.
Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner, who also serves as director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, has high hopes for the campaign.“We are going to be doing both a mass signature campaign around the world and trying to get prominent individuals and organizations to join our call to President Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office,” he toldMotherboard.
Facebook and Twitter accounts have been set up for the campaign, and www.pardonsnowden.org (currently password-protected) is slated to go live on Wednesday, collecting signatures in support of the pardon.
This will be the second petition to the Obama administration on Snowden’s behalf. A petition by We the People that reached 160,000 signatures was addressed in July of 2015 by Lisa Monaco, the President’s Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism:“
“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.”
According to Wizner, that’s not going to happen anytime soon:
“Unless the government is willing to consider charging him with something appropriate, there’s not going to be a trial if we have anything to say about it. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be some other kind of agreement. We think the proper response to Edward Snowden shouldn’t be what the punishment should be, it should be how to thank him. And until that’s the case, he is living safely where he is.”