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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, in 2013

AP/The Guardian

Edward Snowden, in 2013

17

September

Despite their myriad differences, U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy are on the same page when it comes to Edward Snowden's fate.

Both the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger believe President Barack Obama should not pardon Snowden, the man who a few years ago leaked details of classified national security surveillance programs.

Talk of a potential pardon for Snowden made headlines this week, as a new movie about Snowden's life debuted in theaters amid a push by major human rights groups for Obama to pardon him for his actions.

The House Intelligence Committee -- of which Murphy is a member -- weighed in on the matter, too, with the completion of its own two-year inquiry and a unanimous letter to Obama on Thursday emphatically urging against a Snowden pardon.

"Given the findings by the House Intelligence Committee on which he serves, Congressman Murphy joined the entire bipartisan committee in strongly opposing a pardon for Snowden," Murphy's congressional spokeswoman Erin Moffet said in a statement to the Herald/Times.

"The congressman believes Edward Snowden should be held accountable for his actions," Moffet said. "The theft and disclosure of classified American military, defense, and intelligence documents, which may now be available to Russia, China, and other adversaries, must not be taken lightly.  Snowden not only violated privacy interests, but also harmed our national security."

Asked by the Herald/Times for Rubio's opinion on a Snowden pardon, Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said the senator also doesn't support it.

"Marco has been saying for years that Edward Snowden is a traitor, and he should face the full consequences for his dangerous betrayal of the U.S.," Perez-Cubas said.

She also blamed the current discussion of a pardon on "Obama's dangerous national security policies -- including the release of terrorists from GITMO so they can return to the battlefield, which Patrick Murphy fully, naively and dangerously supports."

The House Intelligence Committee's letter, which Murphy signed, is blunt about Snowden -- calling him someone "who perpetrated the largest and most damaging public disclosure of classified information in our nation's history."

"If Mr. Snowden returns from Russia, where he fled in 2013, the U.S. government must hold him accountable for his actions," the letter continues. "Mr. Snowden is not a patriot. He is not a whistleblower. He is a criminal."

The Intelligence Committee also wrote that "a pardon would severely undermine America's intelligence institutions and core principles, and would subvert the range of procedures in place to protect whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have organized an online petition encouraging a pardon because they say Snowden sparked a national debate about government surveillance that wouldn't have otherwise happened.

The petition says Snowden "acted on the conviction that the public had a right and need to know about a global mass surveillance system that exceeded the limits of the Constitution."

"Snowden should not be threatened with serious felony convictions and prolonged confinement under World War One-era laws that treat him like a spy who sold secrets for profit," the petition continues. "It is clear that America’s democracy has benefited from Snowden’s actions, and I am confident he will be remembered as a whistleblower and patriot."

[Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2016 4:27pm]

    

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