Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning want a pardon or clemency from President Obama

The two whistleblowers believe they deserve to be pardoned or granted clemency

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 30, 2016 2:32PM (EST)

Edward Snowden   (Getty Images)
Edward Snowden (Getty Images)

Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning — arguably the two most famous American whistleblowers during Barack Obama's presidency — are requesting pardons or commutations from the soon-to-be-former president.

They are joined by retired Marine Corps. Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright and former CIA officer John Kiriakou, according to a Friday report from Politico.

"I think he’s going to announce a lot of names in the next few weeks. I don’t think any of them will be these big-name figures," Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, told Politico. "This administration does have an aversion to high-profile cases generally."

It's also been speculated that Obama may wish to avoid a politically charged pardoning like that experienced by the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, when he pardoned financier Marc Rich shortly before leaving office.

The applicant with perhaps the best case is Manning, both because her 35-year prison term was by far the longest ever given to a whistleblower — and in part because of testimony that she suffered from mental health issues during the time that she leaked the information. At the same time, Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have been harshly criticized for not redacting the names of activists, sources, and whistleblowers whose lives were put in danger by being publicly exposed.

Since their leaking activities, Snowden has been living in Russia, while Manning is incarcerated in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Barack Obama Chelsea Manning Edward Snowden