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In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong.
Handout—Getty Images

Edward Snowden is hoping President Barack Obama pardons him for leaking a trove of classified secrets on the National Security Agency surveillance programs in 2013.

Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, has been working with Washington defense attorney Plato Cacheris to possibly arrange either a clemency or a plea bargain with the Justice Department, New York Magazine reported Monday.

“There is an element of absurdity to it,” Snowden, who is living in Russia, virtually told the magazine. “More and more, we see the criticisms leveled toward this effort are really more about indignation than they are about concern for real harm.”

Snowden, a former intelligence agency contractor, had leaked classified documents to journalists to expose the NSA’s practice of collecting metadata on millions of phone calls in the U.S. He has previously defended his leaks as an act of “public service” and said he would return to the U.S. to face charges if he would be given a fair trial. However, Snowden says such a trial would not be allowed under the Espionage Act, which he said does not allow defendants to avoid sanction by proving their actions were made in the public interest.

“These people have been thinking about the law for so long that they have forgotten that the system is actually about justice,” Snowden told New York Magazine. “They want to throw somebody in prison for the rest of his life for what even people around the White House now are recognizing our country needed to talk about.”


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