How far legal proceedings should go in case of Edward Snowden?

How far legal proceedings should go in case of Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden is an ex- subcontractor of the National Security Agency (NSA). In the year 2013, he gathered top-secret documents consisting of information about NSA domestic surveillance practices, the reason being the unethical approach in the methods which lead to a disclosure of all such data in public. After Snowden fled to Hong Kong, he met with journalists from The Guardian & filmmaker Laura Poitras and shared everything with them.  In Shortcomings, the media houses began broadcasting the documents that he had passed. Among them, some ended up detailing the monitoring of American citizens (which is true).

On June 14, 2013, United States federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Snowden, charging him with theft of government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 through unauthorized communication of national defense secret and willful disclosure of classified intelligence information to an unauthorized person, while on the other hand, many groups call him a hero. Four countries proposed Snowden permanent asylum: Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela, however, the U.S. pressured countries along his route to hand him over. Snowden said in July 2013 that he remained in Russia because “when we were talking about possibilities for asylum in Latin America, the United States forced down the Bolivian President’s plane,” citing the Morales plane incident. The charges as mentioned above carry a maximum possible prison term of ten years.

Shortly after the disclosures got published, the then President Obama declared that the American public had no cause for concern saying, “nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” and “there is no spying on Americans.” Not only that, the disclosure of this significant information influenced the masses which lead to protests like; “restore the fourth,” “stop watching us” and “the day we fight back.”

Proponents to this disclosure point out that after Edward’s meeting with Amnesty International in Moscow in mid-July 2013, the company said, “What he has disclosed is patently in the public interest, and as a whistleblower, his actions were justified.” He has exposed unlawful extensive surveillance activities which interfere with an individual’s right to privacy. States that initiated to stop a person from revealing such illegal behavior are flouting international law. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right.

Widney Brown, Senior Director of Amnesty, feared that Snowden would be at “great risk” of human rights violations if coercively transferred to the United States and urged no country to return Snowden to the US. Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International disliked the US pressure on governments to block Snowden’s asylum attempts, saying “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law.” During that time Human Rights wrote that wherever Snowden seeks asylum, his rights should be protected under international law and his claim should be considered reasonably which indicates that revealing official secrets is sometimes justified in the public interest

However, the opponents are making a point by explaining how he has caused damage to the nation. There is an apparent fear that China and Russia, for instance, have taken record of Western intelligence agencies’ cyber procedures and are now going to settle them off back against the US and its allies. Coming to talk about stopping terrorist attacks, groups that seek to hurt the West also now have an advanced understanding of our capacity to stop them. Snowden’s revelations have led to changes in the way that terrorists communicate. Also, Snowden’s actions have led to terrorist groups developing new encryption technology.

There is no denying that Snowden’s actions have negatively impacted the American surveillance program. However, it was an attempt to educate citizens about practices which Snowden felt was unethical.

What are your thoughts? Should the U.S. government grant immunity to Edward Snowden?

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