Attorney General William Barr is “vehemently opposed” to the idea, floated by President Donald Trump, of pardoning National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Associated Press reported.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, last week Trump suggested that he’s “looking very strongly” into pardoning the Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, who is a wanted man in the U.S. Snowden has been living in exile in Russia since 2013.
The attorney general, however, is reportedly having none of it.
“He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people. He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that,” Barr said.
In 2013, Snowden became a household name after he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists, detailing how government agencies were carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on Americans. He then fled the country before criminal charges were unsealed against him.
Snowden eventually made his way to Russia and granted asylum. He and his girlfriend have remained there ever since.
In the U.S., Snowden remains a wanted criminal, having been charged with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and one count of theft of government property.
Trump, for his part, had previously called Snowden a “traitor” and had even advocated for his execution.
However, last week Trump likened the whole situation to a “split decision” and that “many people think that he should be somehow treated differently.”
Why Trump has since appeared to be open to changing his mind is unclear. However, Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker pointed out that Trump has been distrustful of his own intelligence community, particularly after the agencies contributed to the conclusion that Russia had intervened in the 2016 election, allegedly on his behalf.
Further, Trump has lamented broad surveillance powers that intelligence agencies have been given.
This is not the first time that Barr and Snowden have crossed paths. As Newsweek reported at the time, in September 2019, Barr’s Justice Department sued Snowden for alleged violations of nondisclosure agreements with the CIA and NSA contained within his book, Permanent Record.
At the time, Snowden facetiously thanked Barr for being his “hype man,” saying that his book had been getting little attention until Barr sued.
“It was, like, 25 on the charts… Now we’re number one basically everywhere. So you could say the Attorney General is the best hype man I’ve ever had,” he said.