Investigators urge President Obama to let whistleblower Snowden return home.
Fifteen members from the Church Committee which investigated the CIA during the Watergate scandal in the 1970s have written an eight-page letter to plead leniency for whistleblower Edward Snowden. The group, led by its former chief counsel Frederick Schwarz Jr. and ex-staff director William Green Miller, sent the letter to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, claiming that Snowden’s actions helped improve secret service policies in America.
“There is no question that Edward Snowden’s disclosures led to public awareness which stimulated reform. Whether or not these clear benefits to the country merit a pardon, they surely do counsel for leniency,” the letter reads.
Snowden fled the United States after leaking internal NSA documents in 2013. He has been living in exile in Russia ever since, facing 30 years in prison on espionage charges if he ever returns to his homeland. President Obama has previously refused to pardon him, but the Church Committee group maintains that Snowden’s disclosures have been instrumental in enacting much-needed change.
“When intelligence agencies operate in the dark, they often have gone too far in trampling on the legitimate rights of law-abiding Americans and damaging our reputation internationally. We saw this repeated time and time again when serving as staff members for the U.S. Senate Select Committee… that in 1975-76 conducted the most extensive bipartisan investigation of a government’s secret activities ever, in this country or elsewhere,” the letter further argued.
Snowden did break the law by leaking the NSA files, but the group points to other cases in the past. They note that Snowden’s actions were more selfless than those of others who had been shown leniency, and that this should be taken into consideration. “Snowden did not try to mask his identity, or lie to the FBI. He knew he would pay a personal price. As he has,” the group said.
source: Church Committee
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