Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Trump criticized for not forgiving Assange, Snowden | Edward Snowden News

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Supporters of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have criticized outgoing US President Donald Trump for failing to forgive the WikiLeaks founder and NSA whistleblower before stepping down, calling the surveillance “disappointing.”

In the final hours of his presidency, Trump on Wednesday pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others.

Steve Bannon and main Republican Party fundraiser Elliott Broidy were included on the diverse roster, along with characters with little apparent connection to the Trump administration, including rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.

But calls for Trump to forgive Assange – who faces possible extradition to the United States from the UK on charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables ten years ago , have fallen on deaf ears.

The omission angered his supporters, many of whom took to social media to express their anger.

Christine Assange, the mother of the founder of Wikileaks, said she was “not shocked, just disappointed” by Trump’s decision.

“My private prediction was correct,” she tweeted. “Courage is not always contagious.”

Others pointed to the contrast between Trump’s decision to forgive the Blackwater US Military Contractors convicted of killing civilians in Iraq and “shady political operatives”, but not Assange and Snowden, whom many observers consider to be icons of press freedom.

Snowden, 37, fled the United States after leaking secret National Security Agency files in 2013 and was granted asylum in Russia. In November, he announced that he would apply for Russian citizenship with his wife for the sake of their family; the couple are expecting a baby.

US officials have wanted Snowden to return for years to face a criminal espionage trial.

Investigative reporter Stefania Maurizi, who works for the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano and has worked on all of WikiLeaks’ secret documents, including the 2010 documents for which Assange has been accused, said she expected to decision.

“I find no satisfaction in saying: I told you. President Trump pardoned the #WarCriminals of # Blackwater, and did NOT pardon a reporter who spoke out against #WarCrimes and #torture, Julian #Assange, and a whistleblower who spoke out against state crime, Edward #Snowden. That’s who they are, ”she tweeted.

Paul Bernal, professor of media law at the British University of East Anglia and author of Internet Privacy Rights: Rights to Protect Autonomy, also said he did not expect Assange to be pardoned.

Randy Quaid, an American actor, said he was “deeply disturbed” that Trump was not forgiving Assange.

Internet entrepreneur and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who also faces possible extradition to the United States from New Zealand for copyright, called on Assange supporters to “stay strong.”

“To all #Assange supporters. It is disappointing that Trump has not forgiven Julian. But our number has increased. Many respected people are joining our movement to free Julian every day, ”he said in a message on Twitter. “Our voices can no longer be ignored. Let’s fight for Julian’s release this year. Stay strong.”

In the days leading up to the release of the pardon list, many, including Snowden himself, had called on Trump to include Assange.

Snowden said Trump’s failure to forgive Assange would mean he “would remain in jail indefinitely while the DOJ [Department of Justice] incessantly files baseless appeals out of spite.

A Twitter user joked that if Snowden and Assange had released a rap record, they might have received a grace.

Assange back in prison

A British judge ruled two weeks ago that Assange should not be extradited to the United States, saying his mental health issues meant he was at risk of suicide.

Assange, an Australian citizen, suffers from depression and has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

US government lawyers have appealed the decision blocking Assange’s extradition.

U.S. officials say that by disclosing certain documents, some of which revealed wrongdoing in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Assange put lives at risk.

Assange’s legal team says he acted legally and contends the case against him has been politicized.

The charges against Assange – 17 counts of espionage and one of computer misuse – carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

He is currently being held at Belmarsh High Security Prison in London, having been returned there after the UK judge who blocked his extradition later denied him his release on bail.


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