‘Not treated fairly’? Trump appears to soften on ‘Snowden a traitor’ stance, as supporters renew calls for pardon

Despite having called National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden a “traitor” numerous times in the past, President Donald Trump now acknowledges that the former CIA contractor may have been “treated unfairly.”

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” Trump told The New York Post, in an interview about Snowden, the former Central Intelligence Agency subcontractor best known as the whistleblower who exposed massive, warrantless surveillance of American citizens being carried out by the NSA back in 2013. 

Snowden has since been a fugitive from the US and self-exiled in Moscow, where he ended up stranded while in air transit, after his American passport was revoked in June 2013. 

During the interview, Trump acknowledged that the Department of Justice could be seeking to extradite Snowden soon, but said he might “look into” the matter, which many have taken as a suggestion that a pardon could be a possibility. 

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“It’s certainly something I could look at. Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side,” Trump said.

“I’ve heard it both ways. From traitor to his being, you know, persecuted. I’ve heard it both ways,” he added, after polling the White House officials in the room with him on their thoughts on Snowden.

Trump’s comments stand in stark contrast to his original position on Snowden, whom he has called a traitor and even demanded ought to be executed. 

The softening of his position has provoked many on Twitter to renew their calls for a pardon for Snowden.

“I think @Snowden should be allowed to return to the US without facing criminal charges. His revelations were vital to a much-needed reckoning of govt overreach. Come on @realDonaldTrump, pardon him,” Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie tweeted.

Trump’s comments soon came to the attention of Snowden himself. “The last time we heard a White House considering a pardon was 2016, when the very same Attorney General who once charged me conceded that, on balance, my work in exposing the NSA’s unconstitutional system of mass surveillance had been ‘a public service,’” he wrote in reaction to the interview. 

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