The White House has not softened its stance on National Security Whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The U.S. government has denied the request in a “We the People” petition to pardon Snowden for stealing and the releasing to the media thousands of classified NSA documents.
Lisa Monaco, the President’s advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, addressed the 167,955 people who signed the petition, begun in 2013, with a brief statement explaining why the Obama administration has no intention of letting Snowden off the hook.
“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” she wrote.
“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.”
The government’s response to the petition should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Snowden’s pleas for clemency also have fallen on deaf ears and officials have long been adamant he will receive no mercy from the U.S. government.
Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia, went into hiding two years ago to dodge attempts by the United States to have him extradited back to his homeland to face espionage charges. Snowden was charged by the U.S. Justice Department for leaking documentation about the NSA’s top-secret surveillance programs to U.K. publication The Guardian and The Washington Post. He has systematically, since first leaking documents in June of 2013, been releasing new information to various large media outlets.
Snowden has said he would like to return to the U.S., but is realistic about the chance of that ever happening.
He has said it would be impossible to receive a fair trial, adding that current legislation means there is “no way I can come home and make my case to a jury.”
“It’s unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which through a failure in law did not cover national security contractors like myself,” he said during a live online Q&A session last year when asked about returning to the U.S.
Russia initially gave Snowden temporary asylum for one year, but last summer extended it for a three-year period.