The White House has said that “clemency is not on the table” for whistleblower Edward Snowden and asserted that the former CIA contractor ought to return to the United States and face charges against him.
“Look, let’s be clear, clemency is not on the table,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Mr. Snowden in a recent interview had said that he wants to return to the US, where he is facing charges of unauthorized leak of classified documents.
“There’s a fundamental position that we hold, which is he ought to return to the United States to face the charges against him.
“We are of the firm belief that the transgressions that he’s been charged with are very serious, that they’ve created negative consequences for our national security and our capacity to protect the United States and the American people and our allies, and that those are very serious offenses,” Mr. Carney said.
“I think we can say quite clearly that clemency is not being considered, but beyond that, this is a matter for the Department of Justice,” he said when asked about clemency to Snowden, who is currently in Russia.
Later in the day, the National Security Agency (NSA) released email exchange with Mr. Snowden. The NSA informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that it has found no evidence that Snowden “expressed concerns or complaints, in email or any other form, about NSA’s intelligence activities to anyone in a position of authority or oversight” and that it continues to search for any such communications.
A day earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry had branded Mr. Snowden as a traitor and a coward.
“It is the view of the U.S. government that what Mr Snowden did was a violation of the law, that it was a serious offense; that as many senior people in the national security apparatus have attested to, damaging to our national security, made it easier for -- or gave insight to our enemies, to terrorists that makes it harder for the United States and our allies to go after them,” Mr. Carney said.
Unauthorised disclosures of classified information harm U.S. and allied efforts to identify, track and disrupt the activities of our adversaries, including terrorists, the White House spokesperson said.
“Many of these efforts are born of years of carefully managed intelligence efforts. As a result of these disclosures, our adversaries, including terrorists and their support networks, now have a better understanding of our collection methods and are taking counter measures,” he said.