Obama: Pardon for Snowden Couldn’t Be Contemplated Until US Court Appearance

© AFP 2022 / Glen CHAPMANFormer NSA contractor Edward Snowden appears by remote-controlled robot at a TED conference in Vancouver on March 18, 2014.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden appears by remote-controlled robot at a TED conference in Vancouver on March 18, 2014. - Sputnik International
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Barack Obama said that Snowden must appear in a court in the United States before any decision about pardoning him can be considered.

Edward Snowden greets the audience before he is honored with the Carl von Ossietzky medal by International League for Human Rights to during a video conference call after he received the award in Berlin December 14, 2014. - Sputnik International
Snowden Fields Questions at Pen Int'l Session Dedicated to Imprisoned Writers
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden must appear in a court in the United States before any decision about pardoning him can be considered, President Barack Obama said in an interview published Friday.

"I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves," Obama said in an online interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel. "At the point at which Mr. Snowden wants to present himself before the legal authorities and make his arguments or have his lawyers make his arguments, then I think those issues come into play."

Obama agreed that Snowden has highlighted crucial issues surrounding digital privacy, but the president said the former government contractor’s release of confidential information is out of step with policies and procedures of the US intelligence community.

In June 2013, Snowden sparked domestic and international controversy by leaking, through select media outlets, more than 1.5 million secret documents that revealed mass-surveillance practices carried out by the NSA in the United States and abroad.

Several prominent US human-rights groups have sought a pardon for Snowden before Obama’s presidency ends. Snowden, who is considered a fugitive from the United States and faces charges of espionage and theft of government property, is currently in Russia on a three-year residency permit.

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