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White House Rejects Pardon for Edward Snowden

The White House today released an official statement rejecting a "We the People" online pardon petition for Edward Snowden. The petition had 167,000 signatures.

Dan Froomkin at the Intercept has more.

The White House response was written by Lisa Monaco. She includes this:

“He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers.”

How can he be judged by a jury without an opportunity to explain his defense? According to Glenn Grennwald:

He’s barred under the Espionage Act even from arguing that his leaks were justified; he wouldn’t be permitted to utter a word about that.

[More...]

Glenn cites an article by Trevor Trim:

If Edward Snowden comes back to the US to face trial, he likely will not be able to tell a jury why he did what he did, and what happened because of his actions. Contrary to common sense, there is no public interest exception to the Espionage Act. Prosecutors in recent cases have convinced courts that the intent of the leaker, the value of leaks to the public, and the lack of harm caused by the leaks are irrelevant—and are therefore inadmissible in court.

....[under recent case law] the administration will be able to exclude almost all knowledge beneficial to his case from a jury until he’s already been found guilty of felonies that will have him facing decades, if not life, in jail.

This would mean Snowden could not be able to tell the jury that his intent was to inform the American public about the government’s secret interpretations of laws used to justify spying on millions of citizens without their knowledge, as opposed to selling secrets to hostile countries for their advantage.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers and the right to a fair trial. How can a trial at which one is precluded from raising his defense be considered fair?

Every American should be outraged that leakers and whistleblowers are being prosecuted under an espionage statute without ever having to show they meant to harm the U.S. or that any harm actually occurred.

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