Snowden urges Trump to grant clemency to Assange
'You alone can SAVE HIS LIFE': NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden urges Trump to grant clemency to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange
Edward Snowden took to Twitter on Thursday to urge President Donald Trump to grant clemency to Julian Assange, prioritizing the WikiLeaks co-founder's case over even his own quest for a pardon on espionage charges.
"Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: Free Julian Assange," Snowden tweeted. "You alone can save his life."
The request came as Assange sits in a UK prison awaiting a judge's ruling, scheduled for January, on his extradition to the US to face an 18-count indictment for alleged espionage and conspiracy to commit hacking. If convicted, he could face a US prison sentence of up to 175 years. He was arrested in London in April 2019 after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years.
Assange published thousands of leaked classified documents in 2010 and 2011 exposing US military wrongdoing. The 48-year-old is reportedly in poor health after years of confinement. More than 60 doctors from eight different countries wrote an open letter late last year saying they were concerned that he could die in custody if he's not moved from the high-security Belmarsh Prison to a hospital. Their request was denied.
Snowden, the former CIA and NSA contractor who revealed mass surveillance of Americans by US intelligence services, was granted permanent residency in Russia in October after taking refuge in the country since 2013. He's been charged with two counts of espionage and theft of government property. Russia, which has no extradition treaty with the US, previously granted Snowden temporary asylum.
Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, denied Snowden's request for a pardon. But Trump, who said in 2013 that Snowden was a "spy who should be executed," has reconsidered that position in recent months. Trump told reporters in August that he would consider pardoning Snowden.
People from both sides of the US political divide have urged Trump to pardon Snowden and Assange. US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) last month renewed her calls for the president to pardon both men, saying they exposed the criminality of the deep state at great personal sacrifice.
After Gabbard was attacked for supporting him, Snowden himself noted that the public has turned against politicians who smear whistleblowers.
Trump will have only until January 20 to take action unless he's successful in getting the courts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's media-declared election victory. Podcast host Jen Perelman, a Florida Democrat who ran unsuccessfully to take Debbie Wasserman-Shultz's congressional seat, suggested that Snowden's prospects could be worse under the next administration. "Is censorship going to be worse under Biden?" she asked.
Snowden earlier revealed that back in 2013 then-vice president Biden was calling countries around the world to warn them that if they grant asylum to the whistleblower, they will be faced with "consequences" from Washington.
Other observers praised Snowden for urging Trump to consider Assange's case even before his own. "How merciful and selfless of you," one commenter said. Another said, "The people of America and the world will be forever grateful to the brave truth tellers, be they whistleblowers or honest journalists, even if they don't all realize it yet."