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Edward Snowden will not be pardoned in his lifetime, says author of new book on the NSA whistleblower

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter who documented the scope of the U.S. authorities’s surveillance on its personal residents after receiving leaked National Security Agency paperwork from Edward Snowden informed Yahoo News that he believes the former NSA contractor will not be pardoned in his lifetime.

Barton Gellman, now a employees author at the Atlantic, was one of three reporters Snowden first approached in 2013 with the archive of paperwork exhibiting mass surveillance of American residents by their very own authorities. Gellman’s book about Snowden, “Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State,” was launched Tuesday. Gellman, who’s sympathetic to Snowden however raises questions on some of his actions, mentioned Snowden will not be in a position to return to America in his lifetime — except he comes in handcuffs.

“Getting pardoned is going to be a very, very big lift for any president,” Gellman informed Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast. “The intelligence community, the national security community, loathes Snowden and have long memories for this sort of thing, and I don’t think he’ll be pardoned in his lifetime.”

Gellman has spent vital time with Snowden since first assembly him in 2013 and mentioned his book’s title displays his personal view of the U.S. authorities’s surveillance capabilities and efforts.

“We’re transparent to our government, our government is opaque to us, and that creates distortions in the balance of power,” he mentioned.

Still, Gellman is obvious that his book is not meant to be a full-throated protection of Snowden, who stays in Russia, the place he has been since shortly after Gellman and different Washington Post reporters first revealed the NSA’s unlawful mass information assortment efforts due to Snowden’s disclosures. 

Snowden had been a Hawaii-based NSA contractor earlier than he made the choice to provide Gellman the trove of paperwork. Snowden then traveled to Hong Kong earlier than persevering with on to Moscow in what he has mentioned was a bid to make his technique to Ecuador, which has traditionally refused to extradite felony suspects to the U.S. After the Guardian and Gellman at the Washington Post first printed their tales, Snowden then shared highly classified materials with the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post revealing NSA targets inside China, a revelation that appeared unrelated to his professed concern about wanting to guard the privateness of American residents. When asked to elucidate why Snowden selected to leak details about U.S. intelligence gathering efforts in China to the South China Morning Post, Gellman mentioned he would not defend what Snowden did.

“I have no defense of the South China Morning Post story; Snowden’s view was that he was showing that even universities and hospitals — that is, not defense facilities or foreign ministers — were a target,” Gellman mentioned of the disclosures to a hostile international authorities. “I would not have published that story, because I don’t publish stories that warn specific foreign targets of legitimate foreign adversaries that they’re being spied on.”

After a Pulitzer Prize was awarded to the Washington Post in 2014, staffers gather in the newsroom as contributing writer Barton Gellman describes the effort that went into stories on the government's surveillance program based on information leaked by Edward Snowden. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
After a Pulitzer Prize was awarded to the Washington Post in 2014, staffers collect in the newsroom as contributing author Barton Gellman describes the effort that went into tales on the authorities’s surveillance program based mostly on data leaked by Edward Snowden. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Skullduggery” from Yahoo News 

Over the years, Gellman and Snowden have debated the surveillance state and its significance, typically ending up on reverse sides of the debate. Gellman mentioned Snowden intrigues him in half as a result of of how far he was prepared to go to disclose delicate and beforehand unknown NSA practices similar to the unlawful bulk assortment of telephone data. Congress outlawed the observe in 2015, a step that just about positively would not have occurred with out Snowden’s revelations.

“Why do people like Snowden do what they do?” Gellman asked. “Most people are going to go along and get along. … It requires a supreme confidence in your own sense of right and wrong, which Snowden does have. And it requires a sensibility that can’t tolerate inaction.”

Gellman mentioned that regardless of hypothesis by others that Snowden is a Russian spy, he simply doesn’t imagine it based mostly on his experiences with the whistleblower. Russian President Vladimir Putin has mentioned Snowden reached out to Russian diplomats based mostly in Hong Kong throughout the two weeks he spent there earlier than the story broke, however Gellman mentioned he spent vital time investigating Snowden’s relationship with Russia and has concluded that Snowden is not a Russian asset. 

Edward Snowden. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Charles Platiau/Reuters, Getty Images)
Edward Snowden. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; pictures: Charles Platiau/Reuters, Getty Images)

Gellman pointed to the indisputable fact that Snowden ended up in Moscow when his passport was revoked en path to Cuba after which Ecuador — Gellman mentioned he has seen Snowden’s aircraft ticket, which confirmed a closing vacation spot in Ecuador. And Snowden urged him not to carry any of the paperwork he shared with him on a visit to Russia, hardly a warning one would count on from a Russian intelligence operative hoping to entry as a lot materials as doable. As for what Putin mentioned, Gellman concludes the Russian president might have wished to “leave a false trail or to poke the Americans.”

Whatever Snowden’s historic relationship with the Russian authorities, it’s evident that Putin sees super worth in having Snowden stay in Moscow, the place U.S. authorities can’t contact him. Gellman mentioned he believes Putin enjoys his position as worldwide human rights defender defending a whistleblower like Snowden. Even Snowden realizes he’s a prize for Putin and is open about it, Gellman mentioned. 

“Snowden has also acknowledged to me, and I thought it was very interesting, that Putin has reason to protect him, because although he is not in fact a Russian agent, he might look that way to other people and Putin does not want to discourage walk-ins by foreign intelligence officers of other countries,” Gellman mentioned. “If he sent Snowden back, that would make people wary … so Snowden says, ‘Even though I am not a spy, he is treating me as though I were so that he doesn’t blow chances with somebody else.’”

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