More than a million supporters of Edward Snowden have petitioned President Barack Obama to pardon him, but the former National Security Agency contractor hasn’t submitted the required documents for clemency, according to the White House.
“Mr. Snowden has not filed paperwork to seek clemency from this administration,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.
Snowden has remained in Russia since 2013, when he provided details of previously unknown domestic and international US surveillance programs to media outlets.
A number of high-profile human-rights groups have publicly requested Obama issue some type of clemency for Snowden, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. They’ve argued that doing so would help other whistleblowers come forward with perceived government wrongdoing.
The White House has said consistently that Snowden’s disclosures harmed national security, and insisted that returning to the United States for trail would be a necessary precursor to any pardon.
Speaking in November, Obama all but ruled out a pardon for Snowden, arguing he hadn’t lived up to the requirements necessary for such an act of clemency.
“I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point,” Obama told the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
“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 come into play,” Obama said. “Until that time, what I’ve tried to suggest – both to the American people, but also to the world – is that we do have to balance this issue of privacy and security.”
Snowden wrote this month that if Obama were to issue pardons for leakers of US intelligence, he should grant clemency for Chelsea Manning, an Army private who provided sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.
Manning was court-martialed and sentenced to 35 years in prison. A transgender woman, the Pentagon hasn’t accepted Manning’s request to be recognized as female. She’s serving at an all-male facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.