By Ella Belvin
The film Snowden has sparked a lot of controversy over whether President Obama should pardon Edward Snowden, who revealed classified information about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance of American citizens. Tatler decides, is he a national traitor or a national hero?
The film Snowden starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Edward Snowden, who revealed classified information about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance of American citizens, premiered in theaters in September. The film has sparked a lot of controversy over whether President Obama should pardon Snowden.
Currently, Edward Snowden is living in Moscow, Russia after his United States passport was revoked. In 2013, Russian president Vladimir Putin granted Snowden a three year asylum in Russia and as President Obama prepares to leave office, people are wondering if he should use his pardoning power to bring Snowden home.
Snowden was charged with theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act of 1917, which prohibits anyone from sharing national defense information with anyone unauthorized to view it. The NSA was supposed to solely be surveying information from possible threats to the United States, but through loopholes and appointed positions, the NSA was able to get away with secretly surveying millions of Americans. While working as a contractor for the NSA, Snowden flew to Hong Kong and released the classified information to reporters from The Guardian and The Washington Post, who published the information to the public.
Although Snowden did leak this classified information about the surveillance of American citizens’ phones and computers without prior permission from the National Security Agency, he is a whistleblower and the Espionage Act of 1917 was not made to stop whistleblowers. The Espionage Act also does not allow a “public interest” defense, meaning Snowden’s arguments justifying his crime as in the best interest of the American people is deemed irrelevant. What Snowden did was more beneficial to the citizens than it was harmful. Because of what Snowden revealed about the United States government, other companies such as Facebook and Google have increased security for their customers. His actions also brought attention to the loopholes in our national security. Edward Snowden is a hero and should not only be pardoned, but celebrated for the service he did for our country.