In 2013 the United States government officially charged whistleblower Edward Snowden with espionage after he leaked information about the NSA’s PRISM Surveillance program, proving incontestably that American citizens are being spied on by their own government.
The former CIA contractor was then granted asylum in America's rival Russia, where he is alleged to still live in an undisclosed location, while still being faced with a number of charges, which include theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Motherboard reports that Snowden, however, is about to receive a massive wave of support from human rights groups;
“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 is set to begin just two days before Oliver Stone’s movie Snowden hits theaters. Stone believes the film will help people comprehend just how serious the intrusion of privacy and spying really is.
“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.”
Ben Wizner, Edward Snowden's lawyer has high hopes for the campaign. In an interview with Motherboard he explained that;
“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.”
Social media giants, Facebook and Twitter both have accounts set up for the campaign to help gain support for Snowden's freedom, and www.pardonsnowden.org is set to go live today collecting signatures in support of his pardon.
This will actually be the second petition to the Obama administration for Snowden’s pardon. A petition by We the People reached 160,000 signatures and 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 Snowden's lawyer though, Ben Wizner, that’s not going to be a smooth process:
“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.”
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