LONDON, Sept. 13 (UPI) — Edward Snowden, the exiled National Security Agency whistle-blower who disclosed documents showing government surveillance on American citizens, said he will seek a pardon from President Barack Obama.
In an interview with the The Guardian published Tuesday, Snowden said he knows he broke federal law by stealing secret documents while employed as a contractor for the NSA.
“Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things,” Snowden said from an undisclosed location in Moscow.
Obama’s pardons have focused primarily on commutations for drug offenders he says received unfairly long sentences.
Last month he told USA Today, he would not want to grant last-minute, politically motivated pardons like some past presidents. He wants them all go to go through the formal Department of Justice process. His guidelines require the person to wait five years after a conviction and pass an FBI background check.
“Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes, and it’s the policy of the administration that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face those charges,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “He, of course, will be afforded due process, and there are mechanisms in our criminal justice system to ensure that he’s treated fairly and consistent with the law. And that’s what the president believes.”
Snowden’s attorney Ben Wizner told USA Today: “The constitution didn’t assign this power to the Department of Justice. It assigned it to the president. I would hope that President Obama would like to resolve this situation on his watch.”
Oliver Stone‘s film, Snowden, is scheduled for release Friday. Over the weekend the director said he supports a pardon.
Snowden, who spoke to the Guardian in a video link from Moscow, has traveled around Russia, and his family has visited him from the United States.
Snowden still wants to return to the United States. “In the fullness of time, I think I will end up back home,” he said.
“Once the officials, who felt like they had to protect the programs, their positions, their careers, have left government and we start looking at things from a more historical perspective, it will be pretty clear that this war on whistle-blowers does not serve the interests of the United States; rather it harms them.”
Snowden has 2.3 million followers on Twitter.