In comments made to the Guardian newspaper on Friday, former U.S. Secretary of State and likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should return home and face charges levied against him by the U.S. government.
“If he wishes to return knowing he would be held accountable and also able to present a defense, that is his decision to make,” Clinton told the newspaper during an interview conducted over video stream.
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Snowden, whose disclosures have led to global uproar surrounding U.S. government surveillance on the world’s population, remains in Russia where has received asylum status. Both his lawyers and the former intelligence contractor himself have said that because he has been charged under the Espionage Act he would be denied protections afforded whistleblowers which would prevent him from arguing that his decision to leak the classified information was made in the name of the public interest.
According to the Guardian:
As independent journalist and commentator Kevin Gosztola remarked, Clinton’s response indicated the Democrat Party’s most likely next presidential candidate “appears to know nothing about whistleblower cases or leak prosecutions.”
In a pair of tweets, journalist Glenn Greenwald, a key journalist when it come to reporting on the revelations contained in the Snowden documents, made his feelings known about Clinton’s remarks:
And poet and writer Djelloul Marbrook, responding on Twitter, also took issue with Clinton’s comments, saying:
Ben Wizner, an ACLU attorny who represents Mr. Snowden, said: “The laws would not provide him any opportunity to say that the information never should have been withheld from the public in the first place.
“And the fact that the disclosures have led to the highest journalism rewards, have led to historic reforms in the US and around the world – all of that would be irrelevant in a prosecution under the espionage laws in the United States.”
In an interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams that aired in May, Snowden himself said that he would gladly return to the United States but not simply to walk into a prison cell.
“I’m not going to give myself a parade,” Snowden said of his possible return. “But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell — to serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the Constitution and think they need to say something about it.”