President Donald Trump should pardon former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said Thursday.
Hours after Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Gabbard called for the Republican to extend more reprieves.
“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 wrote in a tweet, tagging the president.
Gabbard and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution earlier this year calling on the federal government to drop all charges against Snowden, who leaked files to journalists and was forced to flee to Russia to avoid prosecution.
“All charges against Edward Snowden should be dropped. We need to protect whistleblowers, not the powerful elite,” Gabbard said at the time. Gaetz alleged Snowden “has been unfairly villainized and persecuted for disclosing the true scope of illegal government surveillance.”
Gabbard also introduced a resolution calling for all charges against Assange to be dropped, asserting WikiLeaks’ publication of classified material is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
A third bill would adjust federal law to protect whistleblowers.
None have yet gained traction in Congress.
Trump told reporters in August that he was going to be “looking” at a pardon for Snowden.
Snowden’s attorney has argued the United States should drop all prosecutions against his client.
“It seems to be a split decision,” Trump said. “Many people think he should be somehow treated differently. And other people think he did very bad things.”
Snowden’s leaks exposed domestic spying operations that U.S. officials claimed not to exist.
Assange, whose company has released scores of confidential documents, was arrested in the United Kingdom last year after taking safe harbor in 2012 in the Ecuadorean embassy. U.S. officials are trying to get him extradited.
He’s been charged with 18 counts, including conspiracy to hack government computers.
Like Snowden’s representatives, Assange’s lawyers say he wouldn’t get a fair trial in the United States.
Trump regularly praised WikiLeaks before he became president, but told reporters last year that he does not know anything about WikiLeaks.
“It’s not my thing. And I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I’ve been seeing what’s happened with Assange. And that will be a determination, I would imagine, mostly by the attorney general, who’s doing an excellent job,” he said.
Attorney General William Barr later said he was “vehemently opposed” to a pardon for Snowden.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.