President Obama said in an interview last week that he can’t pardon Edward Snowden because he hasn’t gone before a court and stood trial. But his supporters says that he’s wrong, citing plenty of other presidents, including Obama, who have pardoned those who’ve been indicted but never gone to court.
In the interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel, Obama said: “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. I think that Mr. Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community. If everybody took the approach that I make my own decisions about these issues, then it would be very hard to have an organized government or any kind of national security system.”
In response, Noa Yachot, who directs the Pardon Snowden campaign, disputed Obama’s claim, arguing that there’s actually plenty of historical precedent for such a pardon:
“Richard Nixon hadn’t even been indicted when Gerald Ford issued a ‘full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in’ over the course of his presidency. Nor had the thousands of men who had evaded the Vietnam War draft, who were pardoned unconditionally by Jimmy Carter on his first day in office.” And he adds that Obama “himself pardoned three Iranian American men earlier this year in the framework of the nuclear deal with Iran. Like Snowden, the three had been indicted but hadn’t stood trial when they were pardoned.”