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Tulsi Gabbard Urges Donald Trump to Pardon Edward Snowden and Julian Assange

Newsweek logo Newsweek 11/26/2020 Darragh Roche
Tulsi Gabbard talking on a cell phone: U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday Primary night on March 3, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Gabbard has called on President Donald Trump to pardon Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. © Bill Pugliano/Getty Images U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday Primary night on March 3, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Gabbard has called on President Donald Trump to pardon Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard has called on President Donald Trump to pardon National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before he's set to leave office on January 20, 2021.

The Hawaii Democrat took to Twitter to highlight her own video message from October 6 and suggested that Trump use his presidential pardon power to grant clemency to the men, both of whom have been charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.

The president's recent pardon of former national security adviser and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn appears to have prompted Gabbard's comments. Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 but later sought to withdraw that plea.

"Since you're giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state," Gabbard tweeted on Thursday, tagging Trump.

She shared another tweet of hers from more than a month ago which featured a video of her discussing Assange and Snowden.

"Brave whistleblowers exposing lies & illegal actions in our government must be protected," the tweet said.

"Join me and urge Congress: Pass my bipartisan legislation (HRes1162, HRes1175, HR8452) calling for charges against @snowden & Assange to be dropped & to reform the Espionage Act."

That bipartisan legislation was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a strong supporter of the president who recently suggested Trump should pardon himself as he leaves office.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia in 2013 and has lived there since. He was responsible for leaking highly classified information about the NSA's mass surveillance program while he was a CIA employee and subcontractor.

Assange's WikiLeaks released hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation later charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with the hacking and working with WikiLeaks. Assange has denied Russia was the source of the documents.

Assange is currently in Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom and is facing extradition to the U.S. on charges relating to leaks from Chelsea Manning. He had taken refuge in the embassy of Ecuador in London in 2012 as Sweden sought his extradition on charges of sexual assault The Ecuadorian government granted him asylum but it was revoked in 2019.

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Snowden spoke to journalist Glenn Greenwald on Wednesday about how whistleblowers will be treated once former Vice President Joe Biden assumes office next year. Snowden had leaked thousands of classified documents to Greenwald in 2013.

"Trying to silence the publication of facts—which are valuable and important to the public, to the continuation of democracy, but uncomfortable to government—when they understand that that is something that must be accepted, that is what defines a democracy, rather than going, 'No, we need to shut these people up; we're going to throw them in a hole, we're going to ruin their life, whatever," Snowden said.

"'We're going to de-platform them,' or whatever the new tactic is, this is going to continue to be a problem, and the freedom of our press is going to continue to decline," he said.

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