RFK Jr. reaffirms he would pardon Edward Snowden on first day of his presidency

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Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he remains committed to pardoning NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on his first day in office if he is elected to the White House.

Kennedy Jr. released a petition Monday calling on President Biden to pardon Snowden, who in 2013 famously visited Hong Kong and exposed classified NSA documents that revealed the U.S. government was spying on its citizens. He was then charged with espionage and theft of government property.

“Snowden performed a critical public service by revealing to Americans for the first time that our government had been spying on us, millions of law-abiding American citizens, in violation of numerous laws and of our fundamental right to privacy,” Kennedy Jr. said in a video attached to the petition.

Now a Russian citizen after seeking asylum, Snowden was stranded in Russia following the release of the documents after the U.S. government revoked his passport as he was attempting to make the trip to his intended final destination of Latin America, where he had planned to stay to avoid U.S. prosecution for taking thousands of classified documents from the NSA and leaking them to the press. Snowden has not left Russia since.


RFK Jr. and Edward Snowden

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he remains committed to pardoning NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Getty Images)

The information included the mass collection of Americans’ metadata, allowing the government to see when and to whom a phone call or message was sent.

The video also featured a compilation of comments made by former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, all of whom criticized Snowden as a traitor.

“Prior to Edward Snowden, nobody knew that the intelligence agencies were illegally mining all of our data and spying on American citizens,” Kennedy Jr. said. “So it’s not surprising that those same intelligence agencies are now trying to portray Snowden as a criminal and that captive politicians are supporting that narrative.”

“Edward Snowden is an American hero,” Kennedy Jr. continued. “Instead of jailing Snowden, I’m going to build a statue to him and maybe to [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange somewhere near the Washington Press Club or perhaps outside the CIA headquarters in Langley as a civics lesson to the Republic.”


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at Fox studios

Kennedy Jr. released a petition calling on President Biden to pardon Snowden. (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

The presidential hopeful has previously said he would pardon Snowden and Assange, an Australian publisher held in a maximum security London prison and fighting extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges for publishing classified military documents in 2010.

“It’s time that we return our government to the democratic and humanitarian ideals that we’ve always represented as a nation,” Kennedy Jr. said. “Let’s go back to championing free speech and celebrating truth-tellers and the whistleblowers who put their careers and their own freedom on the line to protect ours.”

Kennedy Jr. has long been a critic of the U.S. intelligence agencies.

After initially challenging Biden for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Kennedy Jr. launched a White House bid as an independent in October, setting up a match-up against Biden and Trump in the 2024 general election.

Edward Snowden, NSA leaker

Edward Snowden speaks via video link during a conference at University of Buenos Aires Law School, Argentina, Nov. 14, 2016. (Reuters)


Trump has previously said he believes Snowden is a “total traitor” and even suggested once that the whistleblower “should be executed.” Still, the former president later admitted he considered pardoning Snowden or Assange, who was indicted by Trump’s Justice Department, in the final days of his administration, although he did not specify which one.

“The America I love doesn’t punish whistleblowers,” Kenndy Jr. wrote in his petition. “Truth-tellers who champion free speech and try to return America to its democratic and humanitarian ideals should be revered, not prosecuted.”

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