Obama to Pardon Manning but not Snowden in Final Hour

January 18, 2017 - 3 minutes read

App developers across the country have been watching whistleblower cases with particular interest after Edward Snowden’s world-changing disclosure on the true scope of the NSA’s surveillance power. The tech community has overwhelmingly been in favor of a softer approach to Snowden and whistleblowers in general, circulating petitions for years to help pressure the Obama administration to, at the very least, make a clear statement on how they deal with whistleblowers.

Developers are getting a mixed result from the situation, with Obama moving to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentance in May—Snowden, however, will have to wait at least a few years longer for any resolution to the current situation. White House spokesman Josh Earnest issued a statement that the reasoning for working with Manning while throwing the book at Snowden comes down to how the respective whistleblowers approached their actions. Manning stayed in the US and faced due process (however pre-decided the court outcome may have been), while Snowden chose to run, participating in the fallout of his actions from a hotel room in Hong Kong. (For more on this, see the film Citizenfour.)

Should Snowden be pardoned, in spite of choosing to evade the law and an almost-certain prison sentance? The court is out on that question, but Los Angeles app developers tend to fall on the side of Snowden, favoring a transparant approach to tech in the government.

Intriguingly, while Snowden has issued statements explaining the “how” and “why” of a potential presidential pardon, statements from the White House indicate that Snowden has failed to actually submit formal papers requesting such a pardon.

In Obama’s own words, “At the point at which Mr. Snowden wants to present himself before the legal authorities and make his arguments or have his lawyers make his arguments, then I think those issues will come into play.” Speculation that pardons for Stuxnet whistleblower James Cartwright only came to save the US admitting cyberattacks, however, don’t lend much weight to Snowden’s chance of fair trial or governmental mercy.

For now, mobile app developers are curious to see how a friendlier relationship between Russia and the US under famously Putin-friendly President Elect Trump will affect Snowden’s security, particularly given Trump’s ominous suggestion of a harsher punishment than life in prison, in conversation with Eric Bolling of Fox News:

“I think he’s a terrible traitor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country? You know what we used to do to traitors, right?”

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